Nicola Sturgeon calls for second independence referendum by May 2021 | Politics News
Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a second Scottish independence referendum by May 2021.
Scottish voters chose to remain a part of the United Kingdom in a 2014 referendum, but the first minister told MSPs that the 2016 vote for Brexit – which saw Scotland vote in favour of Remain – had changed things.
Ms Sturgeon told them that the case for independence was now “stronger than ever” and that Brexit had “exposed the deep democratic deficit” in how Scotland is governed.
Downing Street said on Tuesday that the prime minister’s opposition to a fresh ballot “has not changed”.
In a half-hour address to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: “A choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered in the lifetime of this Parliament.
“I can confirm that the Scottish Government will act to ensure that the option of giving people a choice on independence later in this term of Parliament is progressed.”
The next Holyrood elections are due in May 2021.
Ms Sturgeon said legislation would be brought forward to lay out the framework for such a vote shortly, with the aim of it being passed into law this year.
The first minister said the Westminster system had failed Scotland.
She said: “Throughout this, the Scottish Government have worked tirelessly to help find the best way forward for all of the UK.
“Whatever Scotland’s constitutional status in the future, it will always be in our interests for these islands to have the closest possible relationship with the EU.
“We have done everything possible to help avert the Brexit crisis for the whole UK. And we will continue to do so.”
She added: “The Westminster system of government does not serve Scotland’s interests.
“And the devolution settlement, in its current form, is now seen to be utterly inadequate to the task of protecting those interests.”
Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said Ms Sturgeon’s push for another referendum was “inherently divisive”.
“Astonishingly, the way Nicola Sturgeon thinks we can come together is for Scotland to be plunged into another divisive referendum within the next 18 months,” he said.
“That is frankly absurd.
“The SNP’s plan is clearly to divide families, workplaces and communities all over again, and for the foreseeable future. That is not what the majority of Scotland wants.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said Ms Sturgeon was “using her office as first minister to put the interests of the SNP before the interests of our country”.
He continued: “Her statement today is not about Brexit, this is about Nicola Sturgeon trying to pacify her party members and backbenchers ahead of the SNP’s conference.
“The chaos of Brexit throws into sharp relief the challenges of leaving a political and economic union.
“Leaving the UK would lead to unprecedented austerity for Scotland’s public services.”