Why Scotland’s Leader Is Rallying Support For A New Independence Vote

Scotland will not be dragged out of the European Union without a fight.

Nearly two-thirds of Scottish voters opted to remain in the EU, as51.9 percentof Britons voted in June to exit the bloc during theUnited Kingdoms historic referendum, popularly referred to asBrexit.

The British government isfinalizing preparations to leave the union in March 2019. But Brexits unprecedented nature yields a path of uncertainty for Europe and, in particular, the U.K., which is composed of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

As it edges closer to the inevitable unknown, Britain is now grappling with internal chaos that could yield potentially irreversible consequences: Dismayed by the Brexit referendum result, Scotland is once again considering its options to abandon the British union.

The countrys First Minister Nicola Sturgeonis currentlyseeking support from the Scottish Parliamentto hold a referendum on whether Scotland should leave the U.K. before it withdraws from the EU.

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants Scots to have another chance to vote on independence from the United Kingdom, before Brexit takes effect.

The Case For Scottish Independence

Scotland stands at a hugely important crossroads, Sturgeon said during an impassioned speech this month.

We didnt choose to be in this position, [and] in common with most people across the country, I wish that we werent in this position, she said. But we are, and the stakes are high.

Westminster, London, home of the British parliament, has been entirely unwilling to compromise in consideration of Scottish interests in Brexit dealings, she said.

I will now take the steps necessary to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process, she said.A choice of whether to follow the U.K. to a hard Brexit,or to become an independent country able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the U.K. and our own relationship with Europe.

Section 30 of the 1998 Scotland Actallows Sturgeon to seek authority from Westminster to legislate for a referendum on Scotlands independence, which would first require approval from Holyrood, Edinburgh, where the Scottish parliament is located.The two-day debate process began Tuesday, with a parliamentary vote expected on Wednesday.

Sturgeon has said she believes an independence vote should be held in late 2018 or early 2019, once the terms of Brexit are clear and voters can make an informed choice, butbefore its too late for Scotland to choose a different path.

A BMG Research poll published in Scotlands The Herald newspaper this month shows 39 percent of Scots want a second independence vote before Brexit occurs, and 49 percent are against the proposed referendum.

BMG research director Michael Turner said support for independence has gradually increased from earlier polls, and that it is foreseeable for this trend to continue as details of the Brexit deal emerge.

If Westminsters fixation on a hard Brexit continues, the trend seen in this poll is only set to continue once U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Article 50 (the start of the formal two-year process of leaving the EU) on March 29,a spokesperson from Sturgeons Scottish National Party told The Herald.

A Scottish Social Attitudessurvey published in March reveals support for independence has reached an all-time high in Scotland, but Euroscepticism, or anti-EU sentiment, has also risen.

SNP Deputy Leader Angus Robertson said his partys main goal is to ensure Scotland remains a member of the European single market, which refers to the EU as one territory without internal borders. As such, he vowed to continue pressuring Britain to prioritize this concern in its ongoing Brexit negotiations.

There may only be days, may only be weeks, but where all of our efforts are currently focused is trying to convince the U.K. government to come to a compromise agreement protecting Scotlands place in Europe, he told The Guardian.If the U.K. government genuinely believes in a United Kingdom, [it must] take the needs, interests [and] concerns of the different parts of the U.K. seriously.

Sturgeon launched an online fundraiser to support referendum efforts, which has raised over 370,000 of its1 million target.

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Scotland voted against independence in a 2014 referendum, before the Brexit vote.

Dj Vu: IndyRef2

This is the second time in three years that Scotland has contemplated secession. Holyrood held what the SNP called a once in a generation independence referendum at the time, referred to as IndyRef a point repeatedly raised by British leaders now advocating against a second vote.

Fifty-five percent of Scottish voters rejected independence in a 2014 plebiscite with one of the highest turnouts in U.K. history.IndyRef pro-independence backers, including Alex Salmon, who was the Scottish first minister at the time, campaigned with a desire to separate from Britain and then rejoin the EU as an independent nation.

David Cameron, who was the British prime minister at the time, celebrated Scotlands referendum result as a victory for the U.K.s sustained unity.

Now the debate has been settled for a generation, Cameron said.So there can be no disputes, no re-runs; we have heard the will of the Scottish people.

But Sturgeon maintains the new circumstances illustrate the need for a new vote.

The Scottish governments mandate for offering this choice is beyond doubt, she said. The first minister cited her partys 2016 manifesto, which outlines Holyroods right to hold another referendum if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against its will. The government has already drafted a bill for a second vote.

Members of the Scottish Green Party have confirmed they would back Sturgeons referendum bid, but theLiberal Democrats,theScottish Conservativesand the Scottish Labour Party have vowed to vote against it. With her partys votes, the first minister stands to win a majority of 69 to 59.

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Sturgeon has come head-to-head with British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is strongly opposed to another Scottish referendum at this time.

May: Now Is Not The Time

The British prime minister, who was initially opposed to a Brexit but is now tasked with leading the departure, snapped back at Sturgeon for playing politics with the future of Scotland and the U.K. at large.

The SNPs tunnel vision is deeply regrettable, and sets Scotland on a course for more uncertainty and division, said a visibly frustrated May.

Now is not the time for a second referendum on Scottish independence, the prime minister later added, further stressing the need for solidarity across the U.K. We should be working together, not pulling apart.

May neglected to explicitly confirm whether or not she would actively block the proposed plebiscite indefinitely, which is within her governments power. But she asserted it would be unfair to hold any such vote before Brexit takes effect.

Discussion of Scottish independence at this time only hinders the U.K.s ability to negotiate the best possible Brexit deal with the EU, and leaves Scots facing a risky and uncertain future, she argued. If a referendum is to be held, she continued, it should occur after the British government has completed the departure from the EU.

Any interference by Westminster in Scotlands democratic processes would be totally unacceptable, the SNPs Robertson argued.

Scotlands referendum is going to happen, and no U.K. prime minister should dare to stand in the way of Scottish democracy, he warned. Let there be no doubt Scotland will have its referendum, and the people of this country will have their choice. They will not be denied their say.

As tensions rise, a petition advocating against a second referendum has received more than 203,000 signatures, far exceeding the minimum number for the British Parliament to respond and consider the subject for debate.

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As an independent nation, Scotland would have to reapply for EU membership.

EU Membership Not Automatic

The French and Spanish governments are against the EU negotiating any special membership for an independent Scotland,insisting that it would not automatically be able to rejoin the bloc.

Scotland would have to queue, meet the requirements for entry, hold negotiations and the result would be that these negotiations would take place, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said at a press conference shortly after Sturgeon announced she would make a bid for another referendum.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in June that he wanted to bevery clear Scotland does not have the competence to negotiate with the EU. Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the government of United Kingdom, he added. If the United Kingdom leaves … Scotland leaves.

As an EU member, Spain has the power to veto Scotlands membership, which could be an appealing option for Spanish leaders attempting to quell separatist aspirations in Catalonia and the Basque country.

When the SNPs Salmond vied for his countrys independence ahead of the first referendum, the EU warned that an independent Scotland would have to reapply for membership and renegotiate the terms in accordance with EU laws.

If a country becomes independent, it is a new state and has to negotiate with the European Union, said Jose Manuel Barroso, then-president of the European Commission, the institution that serves as the EUs executive arm.

It is also possible that Scottish Parliament would not commit to membership in the bloc, as several SNP members were in favor of Brexit.

While much remains unknown, one thing is certain: As the U.K.prepares to venture beyond the EU, Scotland will not go quietly.

Jesselyn covers world news for The Huffington Post. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

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