Would the Scottish Say Yes to a Second Independence Referendum?
The first minister of Scotland has confirmed that there will be a second referendum on Scottish independence that is going to be held between autumn 2018 and spring 2019. In her talk at Bute House today, Nicola Sturgeon, explained the she trusts the people of Scotland to decide on a second independence referendum and that such a decision isn’t solely hers or the Scottish National Party’s to make, but of the Scottish people. “It is right for Scotland to have a choice, she said.” She also added that she believes that she could win a second referendum, despite the “challenging” current economic situation.
Sturgeon made her case for a second referendum in a “forceful” manner that confirmed her reputation as “the most effective political leader in the UK.” With confidence, she stated her belief in having a second independence referendum, something that she said she had no right to deny the Scottish people. She argued that:
If I ruled out a referendum, I would be deciding - completely unilaterally - that Scotland will follow the UK to a hard Brexit come-what-may, no matter how damaging to our economy and our society it turns out to be.
That should not be the decision of just one politician - not even the first minister.
By taking the steps I have set out today, I am ensuring that Scotland’s future will be decided not just by me, the Scottish government or the SNP.
Theresa May, of course, wasn’t expecting this announcement this early, since there was speculation Sturgeon would propose this during the SNP’s spring conference later this week.
Sturgeon argued that the UK government hasn’t taken any steps to compromise or negotiate with Scotland, so she had no other choice but to take action. She said that “Since last June my focus has been on trying to find an agreement with the UK that would reconcile the UK-wide vote to leave the European Union with the Scottish vote to remain.” She added, that “Over the past few months we have worked really hard to find agreement,” but “Our efforts at compromise have instead been met with a brick wall of intransigence.” Sturgeon was also disappointed in May’s Lancaster speech calling for a hard Brexit, something that wasn’t discussed but asserted as a final decision.
She explained that Scotland has been “ignored on an issue as important as the membership of the EU.” And now isn’t the time to just wait and see passively: “The problem with doing nothing now is that by the time these fears are realised it would be too late for Scotland to choose a different path.”
While the Scottish voted against the 2014 independence referendum, Sturgeon said that Brexit changed everything and that meant that change is “inevitable”:
What Scotland deserves, in the light of the material change of circumstances brought about by the Brexit vote, is the chance to decide our future in a fair, free and democratic way - and at a time when we are equipped with the facts we need.
It is - above all - about informed choice.
We know that Brexit has made change inevitable. The option of ‘no change’ is no longer available.
However, we can still decide the nature of change.
Having Scotland’s referendum - at a time when the terms of Brexit are known - will give the Scottish people a choice about the kind of change we want.
A spokesman for Theresa May said that a second referendum would be “divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time.”
Scottish independence referendum: Before or after Brexit?
May doesn’t agree with a second referendum, but she would not block it if it happens after Brexit, when the UK would have withdrawn from the EU. Sturgeon is stressing though that it needs to take place before Brexit, so that Scotland has the opportunity to join the EU quickly or simply remain a member of the EU. The European Commission has stated that Scotland will have to apply to join the EU after it withdraws from the UK.
Sturgeon’s announcement attracted the venom of other parties who said such a move would either be divisive or weaken Scotland’s economic situation.
Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, tweeted: “Nicola Sturgeon has today chosen the path of further division and uncertainty. We will vote against any request for a Section 30 next week.”
Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, also agreed: “Scotland is already divided enough. We do not want to be divided again, but that is exactly what another independence referendum would do.”
The leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, talking on the Today programme, said that Scottish independence would be “economically catastrophic” and would “lead to a turbo-charged austerity.”
Theresa May has also responded to Sturgeon’s speech. Her answer demonstrates the cultural imperialism that seeks to exclude the Scottish people by talking on their behalf. She said that she wants “an agreement that is going to work for the whole of the United Kingdom” that is why she knows that “the majority of the Scottish people, do not want a second independence referendum.” Perhaps the Scottish people can decide for themselves? Yes or No?