Scot­tish of­fi­cial presses for new vote

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - BY ELISABETH O’LEARY

aberdeen, scot­land — Re­fusal by Bri­tain’s prime min­is­ter to dis­cuss an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum would “shat­ter be­yond re­pair” the United King­dom’s con­sti­tu­tional struc­ture, Scot­tish Na­tional Party leader Ni­cola Stur­geon said Satur­day.

Stur­geon, speak­ing at a party meet­ing, pledged to press on with plans to hold a new Scot­tish ref­er­en­dum as an­nounced last week, deep­en­ing a stand­off with the U.K. gov­ern­ment.

Stur­geon ex­pects to get au­tho­riza­tion from the de­volved Scot­tish Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day to seek the terms for a new se­ces­sion vote, aim­ing for a date once the terms for Brexit are clear but be­fore Bri­tain leaves the Euro­pean Union.

“To stand in de­fi­ance of [Scot­tish par­lia­men­tary au­tho­riza­tion] would be for the prime min­is­ter to shat­ter be­yond re­pair any no­tion of the U.K. as a re­spect­ful part­ner­ship of equals,” said Stur­geon, who is Scot­land’s first min­is­ter.

“Scot­land’s fu­ture will be in Scot­land’s hands,” she said.

Scot­tish vot­ers re­jected in­de­pen­dence in 2014 by a 10 per­cent­age point mar­gin. But Stur­geon was elected last year on a man­i­festo that in­cluded the pos­si­bil­ity of a new in­de­pen­dence vote.

Un­der the U.K.’s con­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ments, Bri­tain’s Par­lia­ment needs to sign off on any legally bind­ing vote in Scot­land. Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May told Stur­geon last week that “now is not the time” for a new choice on in­de­pen­dence as di­vorce talks for the world’s fifth-largest econ­omy with its erst­while E.U. part­ners get un­der­way.

Al­though May did not deny a vote out­right, Scot­tish na­tion­al­ists pre­dict her words could build sup­port for se­ces­sion be­cause it will look like she is telling Scot­land what to do.

“[May] has time to think again and I hope she does. If her con­cern is tim­ing then — within rea­son — I am happy to have that dis­cus­sion,” Stur­geon said.

The two sides are in a stand­off just days be­fore Bri­tain is ex­pected to trig­ger Ar­ti­cle 50 of the E.U.’s Lis­bon Treaty and start the com­plex Brexit pro­ce­dure.

Last June’s vote to leave the E.U. has al­tered the po­lit­i­cal land­scape and shaken the ties of the U.K.’s four na­tions. Eng­land, the U.K.’s most pop­u­lous na­tion, and Wales voted to leave while the Scots and the North­ern Ir­ish wanted to keep their E.U. mem­ber­ship.

Scot­tish na­tion­al­ists say the U.K. gov­ern­ment has all but ig­nored their pro­pos­als of a be­spoke deal for Scot­land within Brexit.

“If [May] shows the same con­de­scen­sion and in­flex­i­bil­ity, the same tin ear, to other E.U. coun­tries as she has to Scot­land, then the Brexit process will hit the rocks,” Stur­geon said.

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