EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Scotland’s leader on Monday said that she would seek authority for a new independence referendum because Britain is dragging Scotland out of the European Union against its will.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that she would move quickly to give Scottish voters a chance to make Scotland an independent country.
Sturgeon said the referendum should be held between the fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019. She said by then, details of Britain’s post-Brexit deal with the EU would be clear and Scottish voters would be able to make “an informed choice.”
The British government must agree before a legally binding referendum can be held. Sturgeon spoke as Britain’s Parliament was on the verge of approving a Brexit bill that would allow Britain to start the formal withdrawal from the EU in the next few days.
Scottish voters rejected independence in a 2014 referendum, but Sturgeon said that the U.K.’s decision to leave the EU had brought about a “material change of circumstances.”
Sturgeon said that British Prime Minister Theresa May has so far refused to compromise with Scotland over Brexit. She said she had made good faith proposals for a compromise but had been met with a “brick wall of intransigence.”
Britons voted in the June 23 referendum to leave the EU, but Scottish voters strongly backed staying inside the EU. Sturgeon said she hoped Scotland would be able to stay in the European single market and customs union, but has become convinced May is pursuing a “hard Brexit” that would leave Britain on its own.
The Scottish leader also warned that May’s Conservative Party had consolidated power and may govern until 2030 because of weakness in the Labour Party opposition.
In this circumstance, she said it is important for Scotland to take active steps to protect its interests as Britain prepared to trigger its departure from the EU.
She says Scotland is at a difficult crossroads not of her own choosing but must not stand by and simply hope for the best.
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