EDINBURGH, Scotland – Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon proposed on Wednesday the country hold a second referendum on its membership of the United Kingdom before the Scottish parliamentary elections in 2021, tabling it as a choice between Brexit and remaining in the European Union.
Sturgeon, who leads the pro-independence Scottish National Party and his the head of the government in the devolved Scottish parliament, Holyrood, said it would be unwise to rush into an independence referendum but that Scotland equally could not afford to stall for too long on the matter if it wants to safeguard its interests.
“That is why I consider that a choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered in the lifetime of this Parliament,” she told Members of the Scottish Parliament, which is based in the capital, Edinburgh.
“If Scotland is taken out of the EU, the option of a referendum on independence within that timescale must be open to us,” she continued.
“The Brexit outlook for Scotland is this: a smaller economy, restricted job growth, fewer people, narrowed horizons, and greater pressure on our ability to fund the public services,” she said.
Voters in Scotland rejected the option of independence by a margin of 55-45 in a 2014 plebiscite. However, one of the main arguments against independence at the time was the prospect that an independent Scotland would be left outside the EU.
In June 2016, 62 percent of voters and every single constituency in Scotland chose to stay in the EU. The country, which forms the northern portion of the UK, was nonetheless due to leave the bloc due to the slim 51.9-48.1 victory overall, a result propelled by leave-majority England and Wales.
Sturgeon said her party had been handed a mandate to deliver a second secessionist vote if Scotland was pulled out of the EU “against its will” when it took the most votes in the most recent Scottish elections, which were in May 2016.
The SNP governs as a minority in Holyrood, although has more than double the number of seats than its nearest rival, the anti-independence Scottish Conservative Party.
It was also the third-most voted party in the 2017 UK snap elections, although dropped a number of seats to the Scottish Conservatives.
“Sturgeon’s drive to stage indyref2 before 2021 is absurd and divisive. It’s not what the majority of Scots want – people have had enough of constitutional politics and division,” the pro-UK party said on Twitter.