Scottish government looks to referendum in October 2023

Scotland’s Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced plans for a second Scottish independence referendum in October next year.

Sturgeon said the Scottish government, which is led by its pro-independence Scottish National Party, will later publish a referendum law, outlining plans for the secession vote on October 19, 2023.

She also said she would write to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for permission to hold a consultative referendum, but had already set in motion plans to gain legal authority if he blocked the plans.

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“What I don’t want to do, what I will never do is allow Scottish democracy to be a prisoner of Boris Johnson or any prime minister,” Sturgeon told parliamentarians in the devolved Scottish parliament.

Voters in Scotland, which has a population of about 5.5 million, rejected independence in 2014.

But Scotland’s semi-autonomous government says the UK’s departure from the European Union, which a majority of Scots opposed, means the issue will have to be voted on again.

Johnson and his ruling Conservative party, which sits in opposition in Scotland, strongly oppose a referendum, saying the issue was resolved in 2014 when Scots voted 55 to 45 percent against independence.

He has previously refused to issue a “Section 30” order, which gives the Scottish Parliament the power to hold a referendum.

Sturgeon said the legality of a referendum without such an order from the UK government was being challenged, which is why she had already asked the Lord Advocate, the senior Scottish Law Officer, to refer the question to the UK High Court.

If the court ruled that the Scottish Parliament could not hold an independence referendum without the Prime Minister’s consent, Sturgeon said the SNP would instead contest the next UK election on a platform as to whether Scotland should be independent.

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