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Brexit vote prompts another Scotland referendum

world Updated: Oct 13, 2016 18:47 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar

Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon, speaks at the party's annual conference in Glasgow. (REUTERS)

After Scotland voted 62% to 38% to remain in the European Union in the June 23 referendum, it is bracing for another referendum on its independence, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on Thursday.

Speaking at the Scottish National Party’s conference in Glasgow, Sturgeon, who has been critical of the Brexit vote and the Theresa May government’s plans to take the United Kingdom out of the EU, said a draft bill for the independence referendum will be published next week.

The draft bill will be part of a consultation the Scottish government plans to initiate, given the overwhelming vote in Scotland to remain in the EU. The bill and the consultation are the first steps towards holding the second referendum on independence.

The first referendum, held on September 18, 2014, resulted in 55% voters saying “No” to independence.

Sturgeon said Scotland has the right to seek something better if there were prospects of an unstable future as part of the United Kingdom. “I am determined that Scotland will have the ability to reconsider the question of independence and to do so before the UK leaves the EU - if that is necessary to protect our country's interests,” she said.

"So, I can confirm today that the Independence Referendum Bill will be published for consultation next week."

Sturgeon used the conference to hit at the Conservative government in London, alleging that the right wing of the Tory party seeks to "hijack" the EU referendum result and use the Brexit vote as a "licence for xenophobia".

May, she said, should respect the 62% people in Scotland who voted to remain in the EU, and added her party MPs would oppose Brexit legislation when it comes before the House of Commons in 2017.

"The Conservative Party manifesto, on which Theresa May and all other Tory MPs were elected said this: 'We are clear about what we want from Europe. We say: yes to the Single Market.' The prime minister may have a mandate to take England and Wales out of the EU but she has no mandate whatsoever to remove any part of the UK from the single market," she said.