Sturgeon Hits Back at May Over Scots Plan for Independence Vote

  • Scotland has right to informed choice, first minister says
  • Sturgeon suggests flexibility on timing of independence vote

Sturgeon Announces Steps for Scots Independence Vote

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hit back at U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s rejection of a referendum on Scottish independence and demanded the right for the country to choose its post-Brexit future, though said she’s willing to be flexible on the timing.

Denying Scots the chance to decide their own future once the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union are clear, would fly in the face of May’s promise to work in the interests of all of the United Kingdom, Sturgeon told her Scottish National Party’s conference in Aberdeen on Saturday. She would be open to discussions on timing “within reason,” she told a packed auditorium.

“Whatever our different opinions on independence, we can all unite around this simple principle: Scotland’s future must be Scotland’s choice,” Sturgeon said. “To stand in the way of a referendum denies us that choice. It ensures that the path of our country will be determined, not by us, but decided for us by an increasingly right-wing, Brexit-obsessed Tory government.”

The nationalists are adamant that an independence referendum must be dictated by Scotland and Sturgeon’s team has said they will press on with the legal process after she called a vote for as early as the fall of 2018.

Sturgeon will introduce a motion into the Scottish Parliament next week to apply to the legislature in London for a referendum on independence. May said on Thursday that it is “not the time” for a Scottish breakaway campaign when Britain needs to unite to make a success of its divorce from the EU.

‘Tunnel Vision’

May repeated her opposition to a vote in a speech to her Conservative Party’s spring forum in Cardiff on Friday, accusing the SNP of having “tunnel vision” and of using concerns over Brexit as a pretext for pushing for a vote.

“It would be bad for Scotland, bad for the United Kingdom, and bad for us all,” May said. “The coming negotiations with the EU will be vital for everyone in the United Kingdom,” she told delegates. “It is essential that we get the right deal, and that all of our efforts and energies as a country are focused on that outcome.”

May has pledged to fire the starting gun on two years of Brexit talks by the end of March and Sturgeon argues that Scotland should vote by early 2019 on whether it wants to stay in the U.K. and accept the terms of the deal May manages to strike to quit the bloc.

The SNP is expected to win the vote in the Scottish Parliament with support from the Greens. May will then risk the credibility of the union if she refuses a referendum, Sturgeon said.

“At that point a fair, legal, agreed referendum -- on a timescale that will allow the people of Scotland an informed choice -- ceases to be just my proposal, or that of the SNP, it becomes the will of the democratically elected Parliament of Scotland,” Sturgeon said. “To stand in defiance of that would be for the Prime Minister to shatter beyond repair any notion of the U.K. as a respectful partnership of equals.”

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