Sturgeon takes independence referendum call to Scottish parliament



LONDON – Scottish Nationalist Party leader Nicola Sturgeon took her battle for a new independence referendum to the Scottish Parliament Tuesday in her biggest challenge so far to the British government at Westminster.

Sturgeon, First Minister at Holyrood where the SNP is the largest party, started a two-day debate calling for the people of Scotland to decide what kind of government they want.

She is calling for a referendum to be held between the autumn of 2018, when there is clarity over the outcome of the Brexit negotiations between Britain and the European Union, and around the point at which Britain leaves the EU in spring 2019.

Scotland, said Sturgeon, was standing at a hugely important crossroads.

Sturgeon said Scotland voted by 62 percent to 38 percent to remain in the EU and now faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against its will.

Sturgeon insists the Scottish government has an unquestionable mandate to hold another independence referendum.

“The future of Scotland should not be imposed upon us, it should be the choice of the people of Scotland,” she told the parliament in Edinburgh, adding it would not be acceptable for the British government to stand as a road-block to the will of the Scottish parliament.

The Conservative leader at Holyrood, Ruth Davidson, wants the Scottish parliament to oppose a new referendum, and urges the Scottish government instead to focus on working with the UK Government to secure the best possible new relationship with the EU.

Opposing Sturgeon’s call, Davidson claimed most people in Scotland do not want another referendum.

That view was backed by Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale who said the overwhelming will of the Scottish people was that there should be no second divisive independence referendum.

Dugdale said that far from giving Scottish people a choice, a second independence referendum would increase uncertainty and cause greater division as Britain faces a hard Brexit under May’s Conservative government.

Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats leader said his party will also vote against another divisive referendum.

Politicians in the parliament will be voting on Sturgeon’s call Wednesday, with the likelihood of winning the vote with support from the minority Green party.

Prime minister May has so far said now is not the time for a new referendum for Scotland, indicating Westminster would not sanction a new vote at least until Brexit negotiations are concluded.

In 2014 the people of Scotland voted to remain as part of the United Kingdom.

A Yes vote in a future referendum would sever Scotland’s links with Britain which go back hundreds of years.