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Scotland to hold second independence referendum in October 2023

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is ‘ready and willing’ to negotiate with Boris Johnson to hold a legal vote.
Jun 28th 2022, 8:30 AM 30,035 45

Updated Jun 28th 2022, 3:05 PM

SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER Nicola Sturgeon has announced that a second independence referendum will be held on 19 October 2023.

Ms Sturgeon said today that she would be writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to inform him of her plans.

Speaking in the devolved Scottish parliament today, the Scottish National Party leader added she would make clear she is “ready and willing” to negotiate the terms of a Section 30 order with him, which would give Holyrood the power to hold a referendum.

The 2014 referendum, which saw voters opt to stay in the UK by 55% to 45%, took place after then prime minister David Cameron agreed a section 30 order.

But since then Conservative prime ministers have flatly rejected any suggestion that there should be another vote.

Ms Sturgeon added: “What I am not willing to do, what I will never do, is allow Scottish democracy to be a prisoner of Boris Johnson or any prime minister.

“My determination is to secure a process that allows the people of Scotland, whether yes, no or yet to be decided, to express their views in a legal, constitutional referendum so the majority view can be established fairly and democratically.

“The steps I am setting out today seek to achieve that.”

The question to be asked the same as in the 2014 vote: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

‘Indisputably legal’

Sturgeon said it was a “matter of principle” that any referendum would be a legal ballot.

Outlining her bid to have an “indisputably legal referendum” she told MSPs at Holyrood that the vote would be held “to ascertain the views of the people of Scotland as to whether or not Scotland should be an independent country.”

To achieve “legal clarity” over the Scottish government’s plans, Sturgeon said that Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, the Scottish Government’s most senior law officer, had agreed to refer the matter to the UK Supreme Court.

She said the vote would be a consultative referendum as the vote on Brexit was in 2016.

As a result, she explained, a majority vote would not by itself make Scotland independent, adding: “For Scotland to become independent following a yes vote, legislation would have to be passed by the UK and Scottish Parliaments.”

Ms Sturgeon however is insistent that the SNP’s victory in the 2021 Holyrood elections gives her a mandate for another referendum, and has said she wants this to take place before the end of 2023.

While her party failed to win overall control in the Scottish Parliament last year, the election of a record number of Scottish Green MSPs mean that there is a majority in Holyrood for a fresh vote on the issue.

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‘Obsessed’

Critics claim Sturgeon is “obsessed” with holding a second referendum when the Scottish government should be focused on matters such as tackling the cost-of-living crisis.

Donald Cameron, the Scottish Conservative  spokesman for the constitution, said today: “The First Minister’s obsessive push for another divisive independence referendum is the height of self-indulgence and irresponsibility.”

Cameron argued: “In the last week before summer recess, people want to see the SNP Government focus on the issues that really matter to them, rather than wasting time and energy on a pretend poll.

“Right now, ministers should be prioritising the global cost-of-living crisis, fixing our NHS and rebuilding our economy from the pandemic.

“It is disgraceful that Nicola Sturgeon would put all that on the backburner to push for another unwanted, possibly even illegal, referendum.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar meanwhile accused the First Minister to “trying to drag Scotland back to the politics of the past instead of dealing with the challenges of the present”.

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