Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon publishes bill to set out independence referendum rules

Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon, delivers a speech on the final day of the ...

Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon, delivers a speech on the final day of the SNP Spring conference in Edinburgh on April 28, 2019. (AFP photo)
The Scottish government has released a parliamentary bill to set out rules for a fresh independence referendum, a move opposed by the British government.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted on Wednesday that the bill was meant to prevent a UK withdrawal from the European Union to negatively impact Scotland, a region where most of the people are opposed to Brexit.

“Just published a bill to set the rules for an independence referendum - to allow the Scottish people to choose our own future rather than having a Brexit future imposed on us,” said Sturgeon.

The top pro-independent Scottish politician, whose ruling Scottish National Party (SNP), has repeatedly clashed with London over Brexit, said that the next prime minister in London should respect the demand of the devolved Scottish government for holding a new independence vote on its own proposal.

“It is essential the UK government recognizes that it would be a democratic outrage if it seeks to block such a referendum – indeed, any such stance would, in my view, prove to be utterly unsustainable,” she said in a statement.
A majority of Scots opposed leaving the EU in the June 2016 referendum in which 52 percent in Britain as a union voted for Brexit.

Sturgeon and the SNP have revived the calls for independence in the light of growing discontent in Scotland that a hard Brexit would pose great risks to the economic wellbeing of the region north of the English border.

Polls since the Brexit referendum have shown that support for Scottish independence has grown although some 55 percent of Scots voted against such secession in a 2014 referendum on separation.

The independence bill proposed by the SNP does not set a date for a new vote, which London has said will oppose. Sturgeon, however, told the BBC on Tuesday that the vote could be hold in the latter half of 2020.

Current British Prime Minister Theresa May, who announced Friday she will resign imminently, has repeatedly opposed a new independence vote for Scotland, saying the 2014 referendum should have settled the debate for a generation.

Candidates to replace May are mostly of the same view and a majority of them seek a clean break from the EU at the end of October.

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