Scotland’s leader 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 that 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 vote for.
Britons decided in a June 23 referendum to leave the EU, but Scots voted by 62 to 38 per cent to remain.
Scotland must not be “taken down a path that we do not want to go down without a choice,” Ms Sturgeon said.
The move drew a quick rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May who said a second referendum would be hugely disruptive and is not justified because evidence shows most Scottish voters oppose a second referendum. She said Ms Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party is guilty of “tunnel vision.”
Ms Sturgeon spoke in Edinburgh as Britain’s Parliament was on the verge of approving a Brexit Bill that will allow the UK to start the formal withdrawal from the EU within days.
Ms 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 independent ballot would be divisive.
Ms Sturgeon said she had sought compromise with Ms May’s government, but had been met with a “brick wall of intransigence.”...