Sturgeon demands independence vote in letter to May

Scottish first minister calls for second referendum ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon works on her letter to British prime minister Theresa May requesting a second Scottish independence referendum, in Edinburgh. Photograph: Stuart Nicol/AFP/Getty Images

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon works on her letter to British prime minister Theresa May requesting a second Scottish independence referendum, in Edinburgh. Photograph: Stuart Nicol/AFP/Getty Images

 

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote to British prime minister Theresa May on Friday formally demanding that Ms May allow a second referendum on Scottish independence ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU.

On Tuesday, Scotland’s devolved parliament voted to hold a referendum on secession in 2018 or 2019, but the British government in Westminster must give its approval before any such poll can be held.

Ms May has already said it is not the right time for another Scottish referendum, as she has only just begun the complex two-year divorce process between the UK and its 27 EU partners.

Scots rejected independence in a 2014 referendum by 55 to 45 per cent, but Ms Sturgeon says the situation has changed because of Brexit.

The results of the UK’s Brexit referendum last June have called the union’s future into question, with England and Wales voting to leave the EU but Scotland and Northern Ireland voting to stay.

Single market

In her letter, Ms Sturgeon said she wished Ms May well in Brexit negotiations with the EU, but added that it seemed inevitable the outcome of the talks would leave the UK outside the European single market.

“In these very changed circumstances, the people of Scotland must have the right to choose our own future - in short, to exercise our right of self-determination,” she wrote.

“I am therefore writing to begin early discussions between our governments to agree an order under Section 30 of the Scotland Act, 1998, that would enable a referendum to be legislated for by the Scottish parliament.”

Ms Sturgeon said she agreed with Ms May that it would be wrong to hold a referendum immediately, but said one should take place after the terms of Brexit were agreed and a deal on future trade with the EU was struck, something Ms May believes will happen before March 2019.

“There appears to be no rational reason for you to stand in the way of the will of the Scottish parliament and I hope you will not do so,” Ms Sturgeon said.

A spokesman for Ms May said the British government would respond in due course, but ruled out discussions on a second secession vote.

“At this point, all our focus should be on our negotiations with the EU, making sure we get the right deal for the whole of the UK,” the spokesman said.

Reuters