UK Prime Minister has repeatedly said that “now is not the time” for another Scottish referendum on independence, but the Scottish Parliament has just voted in favour of “seeking permission” for a referendum before the UK leaves the European Union.
Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second referendum on independence for Scotland had been formally backed by the Scottish Parliament.
MSPs voted by 69 to 59 in favour of seeking permission for a referendum before the UK leaves the EU.
Ms Sturgeon says the move is needed to allow Scotland to decide what path to follow in the wake of the Brexit vote.
But the UK government has already said it will block a referendum until the Brexit process has been completed.
Prime Minister Theresa May, who met Ms Sturgeon for talks in Glasgow on Monday, has repeatedly insisted that “now is not the time” for a referendum.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she is not seeking confrontation.
“My argument is simply this: when the nature of the change that is made inevitable by Brexit becomes clear, that change should not be imposed upon us, we should have the right to decide the nature of that change.
“The people of Scotland should have the right to choose between Brexit – possibly a very hard Brexit – or becoming an independent country, able to chart our own course and create a true partnership of equals across these islands.”
She added: “I hope the UK government will respect the will of this parliament. If it does so, I will enter discussion in good faith and with a willingness to compromise.
“However, if it chooses not to do so I will return to the parliament following the Easter recess to set out the steps that the Scottish government will take to progress the will of parliament.”
But this looks like a clash of wills between her and Theresa May, and between the Scottish and UK parliaments.
Ms Sturgeon is expected to make the formal request for a section 30 later this week – after Mrs May formally starts the Brexit process by triggering Article 50.
Scottish voters rejected independence by 55% to 45% in a referendum in 2014, but Ms Sturgeon believes the UK voting to leave the EU is a material change in circumstances which means people should again be asked the question.
There certainly has been a material change in circumstances.
While May and her UK government prefers no split it may make sense to find out if that is what the Scots want and take that into account with exit plans from the EU.
Her Scottish secretary, David Mundell, has said that the timescale could include “the Brexit process, the journey of leaving and people being able to understand what the UK’s new relationship with the EU is, so they can make an informed choice if there was ever to be another referendum”.
He added: “We are not entering into negotiations on whether there should be another independence referendum during the Brexit process.
The Scottish Parliament vote may or may not change that position.
There may be some chicken and egg here.
Would plans for the UK exit from the EU be easier if they knew whether Scotland was going to split or remain?
Or should another Scottish referendum wait until they know what the exit from the EU is going to look like for them and the UK?