Scottish parliament backs call for new independence referendum

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-03-29 06:32

Scottish parliament backs call for new independence referendum

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meet in a hotel in Glasgow, Scotland, March 27, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon won a major victory Tuesday in her demand for a new Scottish referendum.

Her governing Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), supported by Green Party members of the Scottish Parliament, backed Sturgeon's bill for a referendum to take place between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

Sturgeon wants the people of Scotland to have a say on the destiny of their region before a final deal is agreed on the terms of Brexit between the British government and Brussels.

The SNP leader welcomed the vote at Holyrood of 69 to 59 in support of her bill.

Scottish people held a first referendum in 2014, voting to remain as part of Britain.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has not ruled out a second referendum for Scotland but has insisted this will not happen until the end of the Brexit negotiations.

This point was emphasized by the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell, who said Westminster would not agree to give the legal authority needed to allow a second referendum.

That will put Sturgeon and the SNP on a collision course with Westminster.

Although the 2014 referendum was described as a once in a generation vote, Sturgeon said the situation had changed with the result of last year's EU membership referendum in that the people of Scotland backed staying in the EU.

Sturgeon said: "My argument is simply this: when the nature of the change that is made inevitable by Brexit becomes clear, that change should not be imposed upon us. We should have the right to decide the nature of that change."

"The people of Scotland should have the right to choose between Brexit -- possibly a very hard Brexit -- or becoming an independent country, able to chart our own course and create a true partnership of equals across these islands," she also said. "I hope the British government will respect the will of this parliament."

Sturgeon is likely to make the formal request to the British government for a section 30 later this week, after May formally starts the Brexit process on Wednesday by triggering Article 50.

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