06 February 2020 19:07
Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence by 2021 if the country is taken out of the EU. She told MSPs: "A choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered in the lifetime of this parliament. Ms Sturgeon said she hoped legislation for a referendum will be in place by the end of this year, which would allow a vote to be held once a Section 30 order is granted by the UK government. Nicola Sturgeon knows that the Westminster government will almost certainly refuse to allow another referendum within the next two years - so she needs to find a way to keep the constitutional argument alive while there is little prospect of an imminent vote. The SNP know that by proposing another referendum they will be accused by those who do not support independence of introducing a divisive political issue at the worst possible time.
So the first minister is challenging other parties who do not support Scottish independence to come forward with their own ideas for constitutional change, promising that the SNP will engage fully and in good faith. The first minister also announced plans to establish a Citizens Assembly to consider Scotland's future, which she said had been done in Ireland to "help find consensus on issues where people have sharply divided opinions". Ms Sturgeon initially called for a second referendum after the Brexit vote in 2016, but put her plans on hold after the SNP lost 21 seats in the general election the following year. A Number 10 spokesman said on Tuesday that Theresa May's stance on the issue of a second independence referendum "has not changed" - with the prime minister having previously made clear her opposition. Speaking after Ms Sturgeon's statement, Scottish Secretary David Mundell said people in Scotland had "voted decisively in 2014 to remain part of the UK, on a promise that the referendum would settle the issue for a generation".
"Astonishingly, the way Nicola Sturgeon thinks we can come together is for Scotland to be plunged into another divisive referendum within the next 18 months," he said. Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a second Scottish independence referendum by May 2021. Ms Sturgeon told them that the case for independence was now "stronger than ever" and that Brexit had "exposed the deep democratic deficit" in how Scotland is governed. In a half-hour address to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: "A choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered in the lifetime of this parliament. He added: "Instead of respecting that result, Nicola Sturgeon continues to press for divisive constitutional change when it is clear that most people in Scotland do not want another independence referendum.
"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. Ms Sturgeon said the UK's decision to leave the EU had changed the circumstances since the last Scottish independence referendum.