SCOTLAND MPs TO VOTE ON INDEPENDENCE BID
Lawmakers to ignore British PM’s overtures on eve of Brexit
JJOHN COLLINS, Whitsundays govt council member, Queensland
UST a day before Britain kick-starts Brexit proceedings, the Scottish Parliament is expected to dismiss Prime Minister Theresa May’s overtures and back calls for a fresh independence referendum.
Lawmakers here are due to vote today on Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon’s bid for a new referendum, despite the prime minister’s last-minute appeals.
The Scottish vote had been scheduled for last Wednesday but was postponed after the terror attack near the British parliament in London.
The attack has not, however, put the brakes on Britain’s European Union divorce.
The Brexit vote last year has spurred the independence campaign of Sturgeon, head of the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP), who argued that Scotland was being forced out of the European bloc against its will.
Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, but they were outnumbered by voters in England and Wales.
Sturgeon and May met in Scotland on Monday, with the prime minister reiterating that “now is not the time” for a referendum and describing the four nations of the United Kingdom as an “unstoppable force”.
The SNP leader has suggested an independence vote should be held by spring 2019 at the latest — before Britain leaves the EU — although after winning the backing of Scottish Parliament, she needs approval from London for a referendum to take place.
Rejecting such a request would be politically risky for May, whose government is also trying to prevent the collapse of the powersharing arrangement which governs Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland executive collapsed in January following a dispute between the two main parties, the Democratic Unionist Party and Irish nationalists Sinn Fein, which failed to reach a new power-sharing deal.
The British government has extended the talks and, if a resolution is not reached, fresh elections could be called or London could resume direct rule over Northern Ireland.
Despite May’s assertion that she will seek the best Brexit deal for all of Britain — including Scotland — she has failed to convince the SNP, which has warned of the negative consequences of leaving.
The economic uncertainty of Scotland outside the UK was a factor in voters rejecting independence in a 2014 referendum, but the SNP claims breaking away from the European single market would cost Scotland tens of thousands of jobs. AFP
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, 2017
the year Great Britain was formed, comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern
British Prime Minister Theresa May (right) and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meeting in Glasgow on Monday