Scotland's first minister sets wheels in motion for post-Brexit Scottish Independence Referendum Bill

Scotland’s first minister opened the SNP conference announcing that the Scottish Government will publish its consultation on independence referendum bill next week

SCOTLAND’S first minister has announced a new Scottish Independence Referendum Bill will be published for consultation next week in a direct challenge to the UK prime minister.

Nicola Sturgeon kicked off the SNP conference at the SECC in Glasgow by saying that she will “reconsider the question of independence” in order to protect Scotland’s interests following the EU referendum decision in May to leave the European Union.

Sturgeon challenged Theresa May, saying: “It's high time you showed some respect for 62 per cent of people across Scotland who voted to Remain”.

She went on: “The responsibility of leadership is to act in the best interests of our country as a whole.

“The morning after the EU referendum, I said that I'd be guided at all times by a simple, clear test.

[Nicola]Sturgeon challenged Theresa May, saying: “It's high time you showed some respect for 62 per cent of people across Scotland who voted to Remain”.

“What is best for the people of Scotland? That's the principle that I will continue to be guided by - and I know I can on your support every step of the way.”

Intentions for a draft Independence Referendum Bill were announced last month as part of the Scottish Government’s programme for a government, which also includes an Air Passenger Duty Bill and Social Security Bill following the devolution of more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

“The first minister must take independence off the table.” Alistair Carmichael MP

Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael MP said: “The SNP have now made it crystal clear that a second independence referendum is their top priority. Their delegates went wild with a standing ovation at the first whiff of a referendum on independence in Nicola Sturgeon’s speech.

“The Scottish Government are now rushing forward with the publication of a Bill when they should be tackling the huge challenges in health, in education and policing.

“The first minister must take independence off the table.”

Also, Sturgeon confirmed that her Westminster MPs would vote against the ‘Brexit Bill’ when it comes before the House of Commons.

“We know that Brexit will damage our economy.” Nicola Sturgeon

Sturgeon said that the legislation would repeal the laws that enact Scotland membership of the EU, which Scotland did not vote for.

Sturgeon said: “We will also work to persuade others - Labour, Liberals, and moderate Tories - to join us in a coalition against a hard Brexit: not just for Scotland, but for the whole UK.

“We know that Brexit will damage our economy.”

At the Conservative Party conference last week, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that there will be a Great Repeal Bill, which will replace the 1972 European Communities Act (ECA).

“The Treasury estimates that the cost to the UK economy could be £66bn.” Nicola Sturgeon

The bill will include the powers to change laws using secondary legislation as negotiations take place with EU partners. Significant amendments or laws may be put forward in separate bills.  

May also announced in Birmingham that she would trigger Article 50 by the end of March next year, following the result of the EU referendum in June.

Early indications are that the UK Government may go for a ‘hard Brexit’ as part of the negotiations with 27 EU members, which would result in more immigration control and leaving the EU’s single market.  

Sturgeon said: “Hard Brexit - removal, not just from the EU, but from the single market as well - will be disastrous.

“Here in Scotland 80,000 jobs could be lost. Wages would be hit by up to £2,000 and growth in the economy would slow.” Nicola Sturgeon

“The Treasury estimates that the cost to the UK economy could be £66bn. 

“Here in Scotland 80,000 jobs could be lost. Wages would be hit by up to £2,000 and growth in the economy would slow.

“There is no rational case for taking the UK out of the single market, and there is no authority for it either.”

Picture courtesy of First Minister of Scotland

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