The Scottish parliament will try to stop Britain from dragging it out of the European Union, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Sunday, as the five-million-strong country inched closer to breaking away from the United Kingdom.
Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU while England and Wales voted to leave the 28-nation bloc in a historic referendum last week, rattling global financial markets and forcing prime minister David Cameron to resign.
Experts are unclear if an agreement between all four UK nations --- Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales – was mandatory before London sends a letter to Brussels under Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which stipulates a two-year period for any member-state to leave the EU.
But Sturgeon said she will “of course” ask Scottish Parliament members to refuse to give their “legislative consent” to Britain leaving the EU.
“If the Scottish Parliament was judging this on the basis of what’s right for Scotland then the option of saying look we’re not to vote for something that’s against Scotland’s interest, of course that’s got to be on the table,” she said.
Scotland voted to remain in the UK two years ago but hours after the Brexit results, Sturgeon indicated a new referendum was likely. Experts said the 2014 referendum had hinged on the benefits Scotland’s young economy would gain from Britain’s EU membership.
“The context and the circumstances have changed dramatically. The UK that Scotland voted to remain within in 2014 doesn’t exist anymore,” she told television channels.
Sturgeon is keen that Scotland – that voted 62% in favour of EU -- remain in the international bloc and is seeking talks with Brussels to protect its interests that include unfettered access to European markets and investment from the continent.
The 45-year-old leads the pro-independence Scottish National Party, which has 63 out of 129 seats in the Scottish parliament, as well as 54 out of 650 seats in House of Commons.
The prospect of re-drawing UK’s borders comes amid mounting desperation and regret among British residents after Friday’s referendum voted 52%-48% to leave the EU after a bitter campaign that saw bitter campaigning over immigration, jobs and a sentiment of “taking Britain back”.
But hours after Brexit results delivered the most telling blow to European consolidation since World War II, regret appeared to grip the island as markets dived and the British currency was pounded to a three-decade low.
Many “leave” supporters indicated they hadn’t taken into account the seismic economic and political fallout of ending the UK’s 40-year membership in the EU. Discontent also grew in Northern Ireland and Scotland with two polls showing a majority of Scots supporting independence.