Scotland's leader warns UK against blocking independence vote

Scotland's nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon said British Prime Minister Theresa May must not to stand in her way as she opened a two-day debate on a referendum to seek independence from the United Kingdom.

Photo by: (AFP)
Photo by: (AFP)

The Scottish parliament is expected to endorse Sturgeon's call for a second referendum in a vote on Wednesday.

Scotland's nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon warned on Tuesday that it would be "unfair" for the British government to block another independence referendum, as she asked the Scottish parliament to support her plans for a vote.

Sturgeon said that British Prime Minister Theresa May must not stand in her way — as she opened a two-day debate on a referendum rematch.

May has insisted "now is not the time" for another referendum, while the terms of Brexit have yet to be negotiated.

For the UK Government to stand in the way of Scotland even having a choice would be, in my view, wrong, unfair and utterly unsustainable — Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish parliament is expected to endorse Sturgeon's call for a second referendum in a vote on Wednesday, less than three years after Scots rejected independence in a 2014 referendum.

According to TRT World's Simon McGregor-Wood, "There is no clear evidence yet that the majority [of Scots] want another referendum on independence or would vote any differently this time if they got one."

No roadblock acceptable

Sturgeon suggested a re-run could be as little as 18 months away, and by spring 2019 at the latest, before Britain has left the European Union.

Scotland voted strongly to stay in the European Union, as did Northern Ireland, but they were outweighed by England and Wales and the national result last year was 52 percent for Brexit.

"We will allow people to make a genuinely informed choice between being taken down a hard Brexit path or becoming an independent country, able to chart our own course," she said.

Sturgeon insists she is open to discussion on an alternative timetable "within reason", but said "it will simply not be acceptable for the UK government to stand as a roadblock to the democratically expressed will of this Parliament".

"Don't vote blind"

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, May's most senior representative in Edinburgh, confirmed the British government's view that "there cannot be a referendum until people know what they're voting for".

You don't make a decision on leaving the UK by voting blind — Ruth Davidson

Davidson accused Sturgeon of acting like a "bulldozer", putting independence above all else despite not having public support for another vote.

Sturgeon wants the Scottish Parliament to decide the date, the question, and who will be allow to vote in the referendum.

Sturgeon's Scottish National Party (SNP) does not have an outright majority in the Scottish parliament, but it has already secured the support of the Green party for another independence bid.

Scotland voted against independence by 55 percent in September 2014, but the campaign left the unionist camp politically divided while nationalists flocked to the SNP in droves.

TRTWorld and agencies