A second Scottish independence referendum is highly likely and should take place before Britain leaves the EU, says first minister Nicola Sturgeon said.
Scotland voted to stay in the EU by 62% to 38%, putting it at odds with the United Kingdom as a whole, which voted 52% to 48% in favour of leaving.
“It is a statement of the obvious that the option of a second independence referendum must be on the table and is on the table,” Sturgeon told a news conference.
“As things stand, Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against her will. I regard that as democratically unacceptable. I think an independence referendum is now highly likely,” she said.
Scots rejected independence from the rest of the United Kingdom by 55% to 45% in a 2014 referendum, but since then Sturgeon’s pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) has surged, winning several elections.
EU membership was one of the key issues in 2014, with those campaigning for Scotland to stick with the UK arguing that an independent Scotland would not be able to remain a member of the bloc.
Sturgeon said many Scots who had voted against independence for that reason were now re-assessing their decision. “I want to make it absolutely clear today that I intend to take all possible steps and explore all options to give effect to how people in Scotland voted (on Thursday), in other words to secure our continuing place in the EU and in the single market,” she said.
She said it was inconceivable that Britain’s central government in London would stand in the way of a second referendum if it was the will of Scotland’s devolved parliament, which the SNP dominates.
Splitting Scotland from the UK would end three centuries of shared history.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved