Brexit revives Scottish independence bid

As the British government prepares to withdraw from the European Union, Scotland drafts a policy to formally split from the United Kingdom.

Russell Cheyne/Reuters
People listen and watch on their mobile devices on March 13 outside Edinburgh's Bute House, as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon demands a new independence referendum after the terms of Britain's exit from the European Union have become clearer.

As Britain prepares to trigger Article 50, to formally initiate its separation from the European Union, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Monday that she will request a second referendum to vote on Scottish independence.

A 2014 independence attempt by the Scottish Nationalist Party, leading to the resignation of SNP leader and First Minister Alex Salmond, failed. But as a majority of Scottish voters opposed the "Brexit," Britain's imminent departure from the EU has revived interest in a new Scottish independence vote – this time to allow an independent Scotland to remain within the European Union.

The announcement from Ms. Sturgeon comes just as Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to initiate Article 50, which begins the two-year period of separation negotiations between Britain and the EU.

Speaking from Edinburgh, Sturgeon said that she will ask the Scottish parliament for a new referendum in 2018 or early 2019, within the two-year time frame established by the British government to conclude Brexit negotiations. Both the Scottish and British parliaments must approve holding a referendum for its result to be legally binding.

Sturgeon earlier said Brexit "threatens to be economically catastrophic" for Britain, and on Monday she said Scotland must "exercise the right to choose our own future at a time when the options are clearer than they are now, but before it is too late to decide on our own path," reported the BBC.

Ms. May publicly denounced Sturgeon’s rhetoric, referring to the SNP’s calls for a new referendum as “regrettable” and “tunnel vision.” 

"It sets Scotland on a course for more uncertainty and division," she continued, "at a time when ... the majority of the Scottish people do not want a second independence referendum."

She denounced the independence vote as "playing politics with the future of our country," and called upon Scottish officials to "focus on delivering good government and public services for the people of Scotland."

Some British officials say that they would prefer delaying the vote until Britain has officially left the EU, in hopes that Scots would then feel less confident about their independence, as The New York Times reported.

Article 50 could be triggered as early as March 14, and already the international community has been imagining a world following a "hard Brexit."

For example, El Pais, a Spanish newspaper, argued that Brexit could cost Spain 1 billion euros in lost exports, while Seb Dance, a Labour member of the European Parliament, told CNBC that he believes both France and Germany are too focused on dealing with "domestic policies" to be overly concerned with providing Britain with attractive trade negotiations.

The latest poll conducted by Opinium shows that 47 percent of Scots expect that were there to be a second a vote for Scottish independence, it would pass, potentially adding to the political shakeup taking place throughout Europe.

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