Scotland sets Oct 2023 for new independence vote

Published June 29, 2022
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon makes a statement on an independence referendum at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Tuesday.—Reuters
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon makes a statement on an independence referendum at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Tuesday.—Reuters

EDINBURGH: Scotland’s government on Tuesday drew the battle lines for a legal and political tussle with London as it announced plans to hold a second independence referendum on Oct 19, 2023.

Addressing the Edinburgh parliament, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon conceded that her devolved administration may lack the power to call the vote without London’s approval.

To ensure legal clarity, it will seek an opinion from the UK Supreme Court before it asks voters: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” The phrasing of the question was the same as Scottish voters were asked in 2014, and Sturgeon said her government would press the case anew with “commitment, confidence and passion”.

Six years ago, Scotland voted to stay in the United Kingdom, and current polls suggest Scots remain evenly divided on the question of independence.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s UK government says the 2014 plebiscite settled the matter for a generation.

Speaking en route from Germany to a Nato summit in Spain, Johnson vowed to study Sturgeon’s plan “very carefully, and we will respond properly”.

But he stressed that “I certainly think that we’ll be able to have a stronger economy, and a stronger country, together”.

Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) says the UK’s divorce from the European Union, following a 2016 referendum, has transformed the debate.

Most Scottish voters were opposed to Brexit, and the SNP-led government said that with a majority of lawmakers in the Edinburgh parliament now in favour of independence, Scots should be consulted again.

“What I am not willing to do, what I will never do, is allow Scottish democracy to be a prisoner of Boris Johnson or any prime minister,” Sturgeon said.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2022

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