Scotland takes a step towards new independence vote


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Sturgeon said the new independence referendum could be held between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, once the outline of the Brexit agreement becomes clear but before Britain actually leaves the European Union. Keating said he did not see “any room for compromise” in Sturgeon’s announcement and warned that applying to get back into the EU would be “horrendously complicated” for an independent Scotland.

- ‘Worst possible time’ -

For months, Sturgeon has pushed for Scotland to be allowed to stay in the European single market even as the rest of Britain pulls out but on Monday she said she had been faced with “a brick wall of intransigence”. “I will now take the steps necessary to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process,” the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) leader said of Brexit. “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.”

The British government retorted that it would seek a deal with Brussels for the whole of Britain including Scotland and said it had already voted decisively to remain in the UK “in a referendum which the Scottish government defined as a ‘once in a generation’ vote”. “Another referendum would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time,” a spokesman said, without however explicitly ruling out permission for Scotland to hold a vote. Diffley said Prime Minister Theresa May could refuse a referendum outright “with the risk that public opinion in Scotland will move firmly behind independence” or agree to allow Scotland to hold it only after Britain leaves the European Union.

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