Scotland’s first minister has confirmed she will be pursuing a second referendum for Scottish independence. Coming on the heels of the 2014 referendum, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed she will seek a vote between next fall and spring 2019.
Sturgeon’s decision comes after Brexit, a close UK-wide referendum in which citizens voted to leave the European Union. While a majority of those in England and Wales voted to leave the EU, Scotland voted to remain, adding more tension to an already uneasy relationship.
The first minister said another referendum is needed to protect Scottish interests, which are threatened by the UK’s move to leave the EU. She continued to say she will request permission for the referendum from Westminister next week.
While Prime Minister Theresa May has not yet said whether or not she will approve the request, her official spokesperson has responded to Strugeon by saying the previous vote “clearly showed a majority of people in Scotland do not want a second independence referendum.”
“Only a little over two years ago people in Scotland voted decisively to remain part of our United Kingdom in a referendum which the Scottish government defined as a ‘once in a generation’ vote,” he added.
Sturgeon said the UK has not “moved even an inch in pursuit of compromise and agreement” with Scotland since Brexit, where Scotland voted 62 per cent to 38 per cent to remain, whereas the whole UK voted 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave.
“I will take the steps necessary now to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process,” said the first minister.
“A choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit, or to become an independent country able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the UK and our own relationship with Europe.”
Sturgeon is not without critics in Scotland. Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, said the first minister has been “utterly irresponsible” and has “given up acting as first minister for all of Scotland.”
“People have said time and again they do not want to go back to the division of a second referendum… Nicola Sturgeon promise the 2014 referendum would be ‘once in a generation,’” continued Davidson.
Kezia Dugdale, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, also spoke out against Sturgeon, saying Scotland is “already divided enough” and that “we do not want to be divided again, but that is exactly what another independence referendum would do.”
Critics believe offering another referendum so soon diminishes the previous decision and the vigorous public debate that enveloped the country, but Sturgeon and her allies continue to argue that Brexit has severely changed the situation.