Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Monday that she will seek approval from the Scottish parliament for a second referendum on independence from the United Kingdom.
Over the course of the last few months Sturgeon and the Scottish National party government have been trying to find an agreement with British Prime Minister Theresa May concerning Scotland’s future in a post-Brexit United Kingdom. Sturgeon has been demanding a special deal for Scotland that will keep them in the EU single market, only to see the idea rejected by the Conservative government.
Sturgeon explained in Monday’s speech: “The UK government has not moved even an inch in pursuit of compromise and agreement. Our efforts at compromise have instead been met with a brick wall of intransigence”.
The Scottish First Minister has also been left disappointed by Theresa May’s plans to limit the devolution of power to Scotland following Britain’s exit from the European Union. This was reiterated on Monday, with Sturgeon saying: “The Prime Minister has been clear that the Brexit process will see the UK government reserve for itself powers in areas that are currently wholly devolved to the Scottish parliament”.
In response to Sturgeon’s speech, Theresa May accused the SNP of having “tunnel vision” over its pursuit of Scottish independence. She went on to say that Sturgeon was creating “huge uncertainty” at a time when “the majority of Scottish people do not want a second independence referendum”. This claim, however, is not backed up by a recent opinion poll that shows 49% of Scottish citizens to be currently in favor of independence.
The results of the EU referendum in June 2016 saw 62% of Scottish citizens vote to remain in the European Union. As stated in the Scottish National party’s manifesto, they have the option of holding a new independence referendum if Scotland are taken out of the EU against their will. It now appears that this option will be taken.
However, there might still be time for Theresa May to reach a compromise that could avert a second referendum. In an interview with The Guardian, senior SNP member Angus Robertson explained: “There may only be days, may only be weeks, but where all of our efforts are currently focused is trying to convince the UK government to come to a compromise agreement protecting Scotland’s place in Europe”.
Photo AFP / Lehtikuva