Sturgeon requests powers for second referendum
BBC Scotland is reporting that Scotland’s first minister has called on the UK government to negotiate a transfer of powers to Holyrood to allow another referendum on independence.
Nicola Sturgeon said there was an “unarguable” mandate for a new vote after her SNP won 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats in last week’s general election.
She said a document containing her arguments and draft legislation will be sent to the UK government today.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains opposed to holding another referendum.
He has argued that the result of the independence referendum in 2014 – when voters backed remaining in the UK by 55% to 45% – should be respected.
And he has promised to include commitments aimed at strengthening the union when he outlines his plans for the future in a Queen’s Speech at Westminster later on Thursday.
But Ms Sturgeon warned the prime minister that a “flat no” to her request for another referendum would not be the end of the matter.
The first minister says she wants to hold indyref2 in the second half of 2020, and believes the election result has made the case for this “overwhelmingly clear”.
But she wants the UK government to agree to a so-called section 30 order, which would give the Scottish Parliament the power to hold a referendum and put its legality beyond doubt – as happened ahead of the 2014 referendum.
And Ms Sturgeon has ruled out the possibility of holding an unofficial referendum similar to the one in Catalonia in 2017.
The pro-independence SNP won a landslide in Scotland in the general election, while the Conservatives lost seven of their 13 seats north of the border despite winning a big majority across the UK as a whole.
Ms Sturgeon has published a paper arguing that “consensus is growing by the day” in Scotland for a second referendum, and that there is a “clear mandate for this nation to choose its own future”.
In a statement at her official Bute House residence, she said: “We are therefore today calling for the UK government to negotiate and agree the transfer of power that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum on independence.
“I anticipate that in the short term we will simply hear a restatement of the UK government’s opposition. But they should be under no illusion that this will be an end of the matter.”
The paper published by Ms Sturgeon includes draft legislation which would give Holyrood the power to call referendums, although she said she was open to negotiations about the details of how this would work.
She said: “It is a fundamental democratic principle that decisions on Scotland’s constitutional future should rest with the people who live here.
“The Scottish government has a clear democratic mandate to offer people a choice on that future in an independence referendum, and the UK government has a democratic duty to recognise that.
“The mandate we have to offer the Scottish people a choice over their future is, by any normal standard of democracy, unarguable.”
The move comes on the same day as the devolved Scottish Parliament is expected to pass legislation that could help pave the way to a referendum.
The bill is expected to pass on Thursday afternoon with the backing of the SNP and Scottish Greens, although Holyrood’s three pro-union parties – the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems – are expected to vote against it.
While the polls have narrowed in recent months, they still generally give a slender lead to the pro-UK side.
The Conservative election campaign in Scotland was centred on opposition to independence and a referendum, and the prime minister has since told Ms Sturgeon that he “remains opposed” to a new vote.
The UK government’s Scottish Secretary, Alister Jack, claimed earlier this week that people in Scotland were “fed up with constant division and uncertainty”.
And he again pledged that the government “will not support the first minister’s plans for another unwanted referendum on separation”.
Mr Jack added: “We want 2020 to be a year of growth and opportunity for Scotland and the whole of the United Kingdom – not more political wrangling and wasteful debate.
“We will unleash the potential of every part of the UK and focus on the issues that matter – boosting jobs and helping with the cost of living.
“Remaining part of a strong United Kingdom is worth more than £10bn in public spending in Scotland each year, and through the latest spending round Scotland will receive a further £1.2bn cash boost.”