LONDON: Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today said that she will be seeking the Scottish Parliament's permission to hold a referendum on Scotland's independence from the United Kingdom.
Sturgeon wants this referendum to be held between the second half of 2018 and first half of 2019 for Scotland to be able to have a say over its relationship with the European Union (EU) post-Brexit.
If it gets parliamentary approval, this will be the second such Scottish independence referendum after 2014, when the region had voted to remain part of the UK.
Scotland had rejected independence from the UK by 55 per cent in the September 2014 vote.
"I will take the steps necessary now to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process. 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," Sturgeon said from her official Bute House residence in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh.
The First Minister said the second referendum had become necessary because of the UK government's failure to fully take Scotland’s interests on board in the Brexit process.
Scotland, in contrast to the rest of the UK, had voted to remain in the European Union (EU) in last June’s referendum.
Sturgeon will seek Scottish Parliament's permission to request a Section 30 order from the Westminster government next week, which will allow a fresh legally-binding referendum to be held once consent is granted.
Sturgeon's speech came ahead of a debate in the House of Commons where MPs will consider the Article 50 bill today.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is getting closer to invoking Article 50 to trigger negotiations for Britain’s exit from the EU as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill comes up for its final vote.
Sturgeon believes she can win a second independence referendum this time around because of the implications of Brexit for the country and to resist being forcibly taken out of the EU single market.
"I have been genuine and sincere about trying to reach a compromise agreement with the UK government. We have not met with a Government and a Prime Minister who is willing to meet us half way on that... they have moved away from compromise with language that has appeared to become harder and harder," said Sturgeon.
She claims the economic benefits of staying in the UK in a post-Brexit landscape are "significantly more challenging" than they were last time the vote was held in 2014