In Brief

IndyRef2: Sturgeon sets out timeline for second Scottish independence vote

Scottish First Minister calls for second Scottish independence referendum by 2021 if the UK leaves the EU

Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants Scotland to hold a second independence referendum by May 2021 if the country is taken out of the EU against its will.

Speaking in Edinburgh, Sturgeon laid out a framework for holding 'IndyRef2' within the Scottish Parliament’s current powers.

Her plan includes holding a citizen’s assembly on independence to consider what kind of country Scotland should be and help people make an informed choice about the future.

The SNP leader would also introduce a referendum bill before the end of the year, a move which could seriously escalate tensions between Holyrood and Westminster

Under current constitutional arrangements, an independence referendum would need to be authorised by Westminster, a so-called Section 30 order. Theresa May has already said she will not grant such an order, but “the bill could nevertheless be introduced at Holyrood as a contingency measure and as a political symbol” says The Herald Scotland.

The first minister told MSPs that the 2016 EU referendum had made the case for independence “stronger than ever” and that Brexit had “exposed the deep democratic deficit” in how Scotland is governed.

Indicating a primary line of attack in her bid to win over sceptical Scots, Sturgeon stressed “a choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered in the lifetime of this parliament”.

In 2016, 62% of Scots voted to stay in the European Union, a far bigger margin than the 55% who voted to remain part of the UK back in 2014.

In October 2018, polling found Scots would vote for independence if the UK crashes out of the EU with No Deal but would vote against breaking up the Union in other circumstances.

Assuming the UK does leave the EU, Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a second referendum before the next Holyrood election in May 2021.

It is not the first time Sturgeon has set her sights on a second referendum. The SNP won a vote in March 2017 to seek permission to hold another independence vote between late 2018 and early 2019, however the party leadership eased off after losing 21 seats at the general election that summer.

“Now the dust of the Brexit delay has settled, the First Minister is taking her chance,” says ITV News.

The Herald argues that “the time involved in the processes - and the need for UK Government consent to a legally binding Indyref2” means a second referendum within this timeframe “remains unlikely”.

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