Brexit could force new referendum on Scottish independence

Edinburgh during the referendum campaign [Andrea Obzerova / Shutterstock]

SNP chief Nicola Sturgeon has distanced herself from speculation that the party could seek another referendum on independence after the general election. But Brexit could force the issue.

After independence was rejected last September, Alex Salmond, the then-leader of the Scottish National Party, said independence was dead for “a generation”.

Since that point, the party has seen a surge in membership, and it is set to make significant gains across the Scotland on 7 May.

Speaking at the Scottish leaders debate last night (8 April) Sturgeon said, “I’m not planning or proposing another referendum.”

“Something material would have to change in terms of the circumstances, or public opinion before I think it would be appropriate to have a proposal for a referendum.”

“Perhaps if the Tories wanted to drag us out of the European Union against our will.”

David Cameron has pledged to hold an in-out referendum on EU membership by the end of 2017 if he wins a second term on 7 May.

Sturgeon has previously called for any Brexit vote to require the consent of all four nations of the United Kingdom. The proposal has been rejected by the main national parties.

A poll conducted by Ipsos Mori for BBC Scotland put a second referendum on independence 19th on a list of priorities for Scottish voters, lower than staying in the EU.

New Powers

Though Scots voted to stay part of the United Kingdom in an 18 September referendum, the Scottish National Party (SNP) is hoping to harness a surge in support ahead of a UK-wide election to win more powers from the government in London.

With neither Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives nor Ed Miliband’s Labour Party forecast to win an overall majority, opinion polls indicate nationalists will win 35-50 of the 59 Westminster seats in Scotland, up from six in 2010.

“As Scotland’s voice in the next House of Commons, if the SNP is there in numbers, we’ll be arguing for as many powers to come to Scotland as quickly as possible,” SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said in a televised debate in Aberdeen.

When asked by Jim Murphy, the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, whether her lawmakers would vote for fiscal independence next year, she said: “Yes, I would vote for it.”

Both Labour and the Conservatives oppose a move towards full fiscal autonomy, and are instead planning to hand Scotland limited extra taxation powers as part of a joint promise made to Scottish voters before the independence referendum.

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