Scotland Wants a New Date With Independence

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants a second vote on Oct. 19, 2023
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 29, 2022 2:30 AM CDT
Updated Jun 29, 2022 6:04 AM CDT
Scotland Proposes Date for Second Independence Vote
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivers a statement to lawmakers in the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, Tuesday June 28, 2022, on her plans to hold a fresh referendum on Scottish independence on Oct. 19, 2023.   (Lesley Martin/PA via AP)

Scotland's leader told lawmakers in Edinburgh on Tuesday that she plans to hold a fresh referendum on Scotland's independence on Oct. 19, 2023—even though UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson maintains it wasn't the right time for such a vote. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the question to be asked will be the same as that in Scotland’s first independence vote in 2014: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” The UK-wide government of Johnson opposes a new referendum and has repeatedly said the issue was settled in 2014, when 55% said they wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom. Scotland’s government requires a special order from Johnson to legally hold a referendum. Sturgeon said she will ask the UK Supreme Court to rule on the Scottish government’s right to hold the vote if Johnson does not give the go-ahead, the AP reports.

Scotland’s most senior law official referred the matter to the top court on Tuesday, she said. She added that she would be writing to Johnson to inform him of her plans. Sturgeon, who leads the Scottish National Party and the devolved government in Scotland, insists it’s time to revisit the matter of independence, not least because of Britain’s exit from the European Union—a move opposed by a majority of Scots. Johnson said he would study Sturgeon’s plans for a second referendum, but stressed that “the focus of the country should be on building a stronger economy." A spokesman for Johnson’s office said his position is unchanged and he “continues to think it’s not the time to be talking about a referendum," and that the government will not be drawn into “hypotheticals” about whether it would open negotiations for Scottish independence if Scots vote for it in a referendum next year.

Even if the referendum does go ahead as proposed, a majority vote will not by itself make Scotland independent from the rest of the UK. “For Scotland to become independent following a yes vote, legislation would have to be passed by the UK and Scottish Parliaments,” Sturgeon stressed. Sturgeon maintains that her party's success in local elections last year gives her a mandate for a fresh referendum. While the Scottish National Party did not win overall control in the Scottish Parliament, the election of a record number of Scottish Green lawmakers means there is a majority for a new independence vote. Like Wales and Northern Ireland, Scotland has its own parliament and devolved government and makes its own policies on public health, education, and other matters. But the UK-wide government in London controls matters such as defense and fiscal policy. (More Scotland stories.)

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