First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Expected To Renew Calls For Scottish Independence Referendum

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to renew calls for independence in the Scottish Parliament.

In a 30-minute statement on Wednesday, the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader will make a “detailed and substantive” speech about plans for Scotland going forward.

But why now, and what is she likely to say?

Ballot box
Are we heading for another vote? Credit: PA
  • Why is Scotland’s First Minister calling for a second Independence Referendum?

The “ongoing Brexit confusion” is said to be the deciding factor for Ms Sturgeon’s speech at Holyrood.

She will address MSPs at, what a spokesperson has called, “the first available opportunity” since the EU granted a six-month extension to the Article 50 process.

It is not the first time Ms Sturgeon has set her sights on a second referendum.

The SNP won a vote in March 2017 to seek permission to hold another independence vote between late 2018 and early 2019.

To date, there has been no formal response from the UK Government but Theresa May has opposed the move on several occasions.

Despite this, Ms Sturgeon told ITV News in October 2018, she would pursue a second referendum regardless of whatever Brexit deal is secured.

Now the dust of the Brexit delay has settled, the First Minister is taking her chance.

Nicola Sturgeon will address the Scottish Parliament.
Nicola Sturgeon will address the Scottish Parliament. Credit: PA
  • Has this not already been decided?

In the 2014 Independence Referendum, the majority of Scots said they wanted to remain in the United Kingdom.

Some 55% voted to stay in the UK, but that was before the 2016 referendum on whether the UK should remain a member of the EU.

In the EU referendum, 62% of Scotland voting Remain, meaning public opinion on independence might have changed now that the UK is leaving the EU.

Scots voted 55% to remain part of the UK in 2014.
Scots voted 55% to remain part of the UK in 2014. Credit: PA
  • What is Ms Sturgeon expected to say in today’s speech?

It is not known exactly what the First Minister will say in her 30-minute statement, but what do know is she will set out “her thoughts on independence and how that relates to where the country currently finds itself”.

A spokesperson said Ms Sturgeon will “seek to strike an inclusive tone” and set the path forward for Scotland “amid the ongoing Brexit confusion at Westminster”.

Whatever she does say, MSPs will have an hour to question her afterwards.

Better Together supporters celebrate after the Scottish referendum results were announced.
Better Together supporters celebrate after the Scottish referendum results were announced. Credit: PA
  • What kind of reception will Ms Strugeon get?

Ms Sturgeon’s spokesperson has said that her Cabinet colleagues were “happy” with the details of her plans and there was “positive feedback”.

But it is not a sentiment shared by everyone.

Pamela Nash, the Chief Executive of Scotland in Union, said the First Minister should drop plans for a second referendum.

“We know the SNP only cares about creating more division, but the majority of people in Scotland want the government to get back to the day job and fix the crises in our schools and hospitals,” she said.

A similar view is held by the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, who added: “She must tell Parliament that she has learnt the lesson of Brexit, that breaking up long-term economic partnerships is damaging and divisive and that she does not want to inflict that on Scotland with independence.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard said there is no evidence that the people of Scotland want another independence referendum.

“This debate is a distraction from the real and serious problems Scotland faces – a low pay economy, exhausted public services and one in four children living in poverty,” Mr Leonard said.

“The mess of Brexit throws into sharp relief the challenges of leaving a political and economic union.

“The answer to the challenges of the UK leaving the EU is not, and never will be, Scotland leaving the UK.”

Further afield, the appetite appears to be little too.

When asked for the Prime Minister’s response to calls for a second independence referendum, her official spokesperson said: “You know the Prime Minister’s position on that and it has not changed.

“First and foremost, let’s wait and see what the First Minister says.”


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