Nicola Sturgeon to announce second vote for Scottish independence, challenging Westminster – Reuters


Press play to listen to this article

EDINBURGH — Britain is heading for another constitutional crisis as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon prepares to outline plans for a second vote on Scottish independence — with or without Boris Johnson’s agreement.

In a 20-minute speech to lawmakers in the Scottish parliament (Holyrood) on Tuesday, Sturgeon will set out his long-awaited road to some form of second referendum, pledging to press ahead even if – as expected – Johnson’s UK government continues to refuse consent.

The first ballot in 2014, in which Union supporters won 55% to 45%, followed then-Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to temporarily give Holyrood the power to organize a referendum. This time, no such consent from Westminster will be granted.

After pro-independence parties secured a majority of seats in the Holyrood election last year, Sturgeon argued his government now had a mandate to stage a new vote. In response, Johnson and UK ministers pointed to nationalist statements from 2014 that the first referendum would be a « once in a generation » event, and said Sturgeon’s current focus should be on helping Scots cope to the cost of living crisis.

Sturgeon will say on Tuesday that his preferred option remains a repeat of the 2014 devolution, saying in pre-published remarks: ‘Westminster’s rule over Scotland can be based on nothing but a willing and willing partnership .

« It’s time to give people the democratic choice they voted for. »

Both nationalists and trade unionists expect this call to fall on deaf ears. A UK government official said his stance against another referendum would not change.

The most anticipated part of Sturgeon’s speech will therefore concern how his government plans to hold a referendum if Westminster does not give its consent.

At a press conference earlier this month, Sturgeon stressed that any effort to hold a referendum must be done “in a legal way” – a reference to the widely held view that the UK government or an activist private citizen would take the Scottish government. in court if he tried to organize a referendum against the wishes of Westminster.

A way around the legal difficulties could be to hold a purely advisory vote, according to a former senior official involved in the negotiations for the 2014 referendum.

« Perhaps instead of an ‘independence referendum’ the bill is instead to ask the people of Scotland for a mandate to open independence negotiations with the UK, » Ciaran Martin wrote. in the Sunday Times. He added that such a measure « might have a better chance in court. »

Some trade unionists have made it clear that they will boycott any consultative ballot, no matter how legal. But with October 2023 as Sturgeon’s ideal date for a new referendum and legislation to enact a vote expected at Holyrood later this year, a court battle seems increasingly inevitable.


For more survey data from across Europe, visit POLITICS Survey of surveys.


Back to top button