Politics, Europe

'Scottish National Party to hold 2nd independence vote'

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says her party will hold vote if they win Scottish parliamentary elections in May

Karim El-Bar   | 25.01.2021
'Scottish National Party to hold 2nd independence vote'


Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Sunday that she will hold an advisory referendum on independence if her center-left nationalist Scottish Nationalist Party wins Scottish parliamentary elections in May -- with or without the UK-wide parliament’s approval.

“I want to have a legal referendum. That’s what I’m going to seek the authority of the Scottish people for in May, and if they give me that authority, that’s what I intend to do: to have a legal referendum to give people the right to choose,” she told the BBC in an interview.

“That’s democracy. It’s not about what I want or what [British Prime Minister] Boris Johnson wants.”

This is a shift in policy from the Scottish National Party (SNP), which is setting out an 11-point plan for holding a second independence referendum, having lost the first one in 2014 by 44.7% to 55.3%.

Johnson has repeatedly ruled out granting legal authority, which lies with the national Westminster parliament in London, for a second vote. He said there should be a 40-year gap between the two votes.

The new SNP plan involved invoking a Section 30 order under the Scotland Act 1998, which allows the Scottish parliament, also known as Holyrood, to pass laws that are usually reserved for Westminster.

The SNP document said it will pass a bill for a “legal referendum” in the devolved Scottish parliament and “vigorously oppose” any legal challenge from the national UK government.

“He's frightened of democracy. The polls now show that a majority of people in Scotland want independence. If the SNP win the Scottish election in a few months’ time on the proposition of giving the people that choice, then what democrat could rightly stand in the way of that?” Sturgeon said.

“Boris Johnson clearly just fears the verdict and the will of the Scottish people.”

A poll for the Sunday Times released today showed that 49% of people in Scotland backed independence with 44% against. Excluding undecided voters, the numbers are 52% in favor of independence and 48% against – incidentally the same margin the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU in 2016.

It also showed that 50% wanted an independence vote in the next Scottish parliamentary term, which lasts for five years, with 43% against. The poll found that in all four constituent nations of the UK -- England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland -- more voters expected Scotland to be outside the UK within 10 years than those who thought it would remain.

The same poll also projected the SNP would win a landslide 70 seats of the 129 elected seats up for grabs in the May 2021 Holyrood elections, which would be seven more seats than the last election in 2016 when the SNP was also the largest party in the Scottish parliament.

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