Scotland lodges formal request for independence vote

Indo Asian News Service

London, March 31 (IANS) The leader of the Scottish government on Friday sent a letter to the British Prime Minister formally requesting permission to stage a second independence referendum.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sent the notice to Theresa May just days after she received the backing of Scotland's devolved Parliament, Holyrood, to ask Westminster for permission to once again put the nation's UK membership to a vote, reported Efe news.

"As you are aware, the Scottish Parliament has now determined by a clear majority that there should be an independence referendum," read the letter signed by Sturgeon.

"The purpose of such a referendum is to give people in Scotland the choice of following the UK out of the EU and single market on the terms you negotiate, or becoming an independent country," it continued.

May confirmed that Britain will leave the EU single market as part of the process of untangling over 40 years of cohesion with the continental bloc.

But while voters in England and Wales narrowly supported Brexit during the June 2016 referendum, the Scottish electorate overwhelmingly voted to remain a member of the European Union, with only 38 per cent opting to sever ties with Brussels.

With a fresh mandate, Sturgeon's Scottish National Party (SNP) has reignited an independence campaign that had sat dormant since the 2014 referendum after 55 per cent voters opted to remain a devolved nation within Britain.

The Conservative Party government, however, with its eyes firmly set on the Brexit negotiations with the EU, has come out against proposals for a second Scottish independence vote.

The PM publicly went on record to argue that "now is not the time".

Nonetheless, Sturgeon announced that the Scottish government would seek to hold an independence ballot between autumn of 2018 and spring of 2019, before Britain had finalised its EU withdrawal, according to the report.

Sturgeon accused the British government of failing to consult the devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

May set Brexit in motion on Wednesday with the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, meaning it must be out of the EU within two years with or without a final deal.

In the note, Sturgeon said she wished May well in that negotiation period.