Nicola Sturgeon will seek parliament’s support next week for fresh referendum
“I TRUST THE PEOPLE”, the words with which First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, set the wheels in motion for a fresh referendum on Scotland’s future.
Sturgeon said the “brick wall” of Tory intransigence since the vote in Scotland to remain in the EU, the threat of a generation of Tory rule, and greater “centralisation” of power at Westminster have forced the Scottish Government to put the nation’s future to the public in a referendum.
At the press conference today at Bute House, Sturgeon announced plans to seek support from the Scottish Parliament to enter negotiations with the Tory Westminster government for a Section 30 Order, to make a referendum legally binding. She said she would expect an independence vote between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019, so that the public can compare the prospect of independence with the outcome of Tory-EU negotiations.
The Scottish Green Party has already confirmed support for a fresh referendum, guaranteeing majority support in the Scottish Parliament. The decision also piles a mountain of pressure on Tory leader Theresa May, who is about to trigger Article 50 on exit from the European Union.
Compromise proposals to maintain a close relationship between Scotland and the EU have have been ignored by the UK Government.
“I will take the steps necessary now to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process – a choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit, or to become an independent country”. Nicola Sturgeon
Sturgeon said: “Scotland stands at a hugely important crossroads. On the eve of Article 50 being triggered, not only is there no UK wide agreement on the way ahead – the UK Government has not moved even an inch in pursuit of compromise and agreement.
“All of our efforts at compromise have been met with a brick wall of intransigence. UK membership of the single market was ruled out with no prior consultation with the Scottish Government or with the other devolved administrations, leaving us facing not just Brexit, but a hard Brexit.
“And far from any prospect of significant new powers for the Scottish Parliament, the UK Government is becoming ever more assertive in its intention to muscle in on the powers we already have. The language of partnership has gone, completely.
“The people of Scotland deserve a choice between Hard Brexit Britain and putting our own future in our own hands.” Patrick Harvie MSP
“I will continue to stand up for Scotland's interests during the process of Brexit negotiations. But I will take the steps necessary now to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process – a choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit, or to become an independent country able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the UK and our own relationship with Europe.”
Co-convener of the Scottish Greens Patrick Harvie has been a strenuous critic of the Tory approach to Brexit. He welcomed the approach to let the people decide Scotland’s future: “The Greens welcome the Scottish Parliament’s consent being sought for a Section 30 order on an independence referendum and we will support it. Scotland's votes and our voice have been ignored by a Tory government at Westminster which we did not vote for and a feeble Labour opposition. The people of Scotland deserve a choice between Hard Brexit Britain and putting our own future in our own hands.
“Theresa May's isolationist Brexit will cause huge damage to Scotland's economy and public services, to our health service, schools and universities. It will isolate us from the world. Those who care about fairness in society are horrified by the kind of Brexit Britain tax-haven the Tories are planning. The Greens will campaign for a progressive, internationalist, independent Scotland.”
Meanwhile the Tories seemed unprepared for the announcement. Rather than confirm or deny how the party would respond to requests for negotiations, Downing Street reissued comments claiming that a referendum would be “divisive”.
In her speech, Sturgeon welcomed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s comments asserting Scotland’s right to hold an independence referendum.
— Michael Gray (@GrayInGlasgow) March 13, 2017
The begining of the UK process for exiting the European Union of 28 member states and leaving the world’s biggest single market, is expected to be announced shortly.
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