Scotland may vote again on British ties
Leader says nation being dragged from EU by Brexit move.
Scotland’s leader LONDON — delivered a shock twist to Britain’s EU exit drama on Monday, announcing that she will seek authority to hold a new independence referendum in the next two years because Britain is dragging Scotland out of the EU against its will.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would move quickly to give voters a new chance to leave the United Kingdom because Scotland was being forced into a “hard Brexit” that it didn’t support. Britons decided in a June 23 referendum to leave the EU, but Scots voted by 62 to 38 percent to remain.
Scotland must not be “taken down a path that we do not want to go down without a choice,” Sturgeon said.
The move drew a quick rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May, who said a second referendum would be hugely disruptive and was not justified because evidence shows most Scottish voters oppose a new independence vote.
May accused Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party of political “tunnel vision” and called the referendum “deeply regrettable.”
“It sets Scotland on a course for more uncertainty and division,” she said.
Sturgeon spoke in Edinburgh before Britain’s Parliament approved a Brexit bill that will allow the U.K. to start the formal withdrawal from the EU within days. May plans to trigger the twoyear exit process by the end of March.
Sturgeon said she would ask the Scottish Parliament next week to start the process of calling a referendum, to be held between the fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019. She said by then, details of Britain’s post-Brexit deal with the EU would be clear and Scottish voters would be able to make “an informed choice.”
The British government must agree before a legally binding referendum can be held. It didn’t say Monday whether it would do so, but said an independence ballot “would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time.”
In a 2014 referendum, Scottish voters rejected independence by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent. But Sturgeon said that the U.K.’s decision to leave the EU had brought about a “material change of circumstances.”
Sturgeon said that she had sought compromise with May’s government, but had been met with a “brick wall of intransigence.”
Sturgeon has been seeking a deal that would allow Scotland to stay in the European single market and customs union.
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, says she will move quickly to give voters a new chance to leave the United Kingdom because her nation is feeling the effects of a “hard Brexit” that it did not support and is dragging it from the EU.