Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second Scottish independence referendum was debated in the Scottish parliament this evening. Scotland’s first minister had announced a week ago her will for staging a second referendum, stating that she “will let the Scottish people determine the form of government best-suited to their needs.” Theresa May was quick enough to comment that “now is not the time for another referendum” and indicated that the UK government would reject the SNP’s preferred timetable.
Sturgeon said in front of the MPs, that she offered May’s government a compromise plan that could keep Scotland in the single market, only to receive a denial from the British prime minister. She commented that Brexit qualifies as a reason for a second referendum because there has been a material change in circumstances. Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, confronted Sturgeon saying: “in the morning, I listened to you on radio saying that you asked civil servants to draw up legislation.” The first minister replied that “at this point, I am seeking a compromise first.”
Nicola Sturgeon attacked the Tories, because they refuse to commit to give repatriated powers from Brussels to Scotland. “Tories could be in power in Westminster until 2030. Scotland should be able to decide the future it wants” she said to the MPs. The first minister tried to attract her opponents’ attention, by telling them that she understands why many of her fellow Scots don’t want a second referendum, but the alternative will be to be adrift for the next 2 years, fearing for the worst.
Sturgeon expressed the opinion that the latest time for a referendum should be around the time the UK leaves the EU, in the spring of 2019. She was confident enough to say, that in case the UK government has a different time schedule to propose, she is ready to discuss it. The first minister then mocked Theresa May telling the audience that “Scottish people will know our plans and they will be able to make an informed choice, in contrast with Brexit, for which, after 9 months, people still wonder what is going to be like.”
The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, accused the SNP for prioritising independence instead of education, and blamed Sturgeon that she wants to stage a referendum without acknowledging that there is no increase in support for independence. Davidson told her fellow MPs, that “most people in Scotland are sick and tired of these old games. The first minister wants a date, but she cannot give us a plan.”
Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, said in her speech that the will of Scottish people was expressed in the 2014 referendum and should be respected. Dugdale called the referendum “divisive” for families and workplaces. She said that she is afraid that independence would lead to a “turbo-charged austerity.”
Nicola Sturgeon said that it would wrong, unfair and utterly unsustainable for the UK government to stand in the way of Scotland having a second referendum. However, it seems that Sturgeon will seek to negotiate a timetable with Westminster, although Theresa May appears to be a hardliner right now.