Scottish government preparing legislation for independence referendum

Scotland will begin preparing the legislation to seek another referendum on becoming independent after Britain voted to leave the EU.

The referendum delivered an overall majority of 52% in favour of leaving, but Scotland was 62% in favour of remaining, with all 32 council areas voting in favour. Northern Ireland also voted 55% in favour of remaining.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said it was undemocratic for Scotland to leave the EU when it had voted against it.

“As things stand, Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against our will,” she said. “I regard that as democratically unacceptable.”

During last month’s elections Sturgeon’s SNP party remained in power in Scotland, but lost its overall majority, while the Conservatives took over Labour as the second most popular party in the country.

One of its manifesto pledges was that it would seek a second referendum if there was a “significant and material” change to Scotland’s relationship with the UK, such as a vote to leave the EU, after a previous referendum was narrowly defeated in 2014.

Sturgeon said: “It is therefore a statement of the obvious that the option of a second referendum must be on the table.”

She said the Scottish government would begin preparing the legislation to enable a new referendum within the two-year period required for the UK to trigger Article 50, the clause in the Lisbon Treaty that will begin the process of leaving the EU.

She added that she had spoken with David Cameron, who has announced his resignation as prime minister, and will also hold a meeting of the Scottish cabinet and meet directly with the EU organisations and member states.

She said she would “make clear that Scotland has voted to remain in the EU”.

(Image c. Jane Barlow  from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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