Scottish government proposal to hold a new independence referendum was backed by Parliament on Tuesday. Scottish parliamentarians endorsed the proposal to hold a new independence referendum in 2018 or 2019, before the UK officially leaves the European Union.
The British government rejected the proposal.
Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has campaigned for a new independence referendum, after Britain decided to leave the European Union in a referendum held in June 2016.
Scotland is opposed to Britain leaving the EU, as the majority of Scottish voters voted to remain in the last year’s referendum.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on Wednesday, a first formal step that will start two years of talks on withdrawal terms and future relations between the UK and the EU.
The Scottish Parliament voted to give Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon to formally ask for permission from the British parliament in London to prepare for a new independence referendum in late 2018, or early 2019.
“The people of Scotland should have the right to choose between Brexit, possibly a very hard Brexit, or becoming an independent country able to chart our own course,” Sturgeon said.
The government in London responded with a statement:
“It would be unfair to the people of Scotland to ask them to make a crucial decision without the necessary information about our future relationship with Europe, or what an independent Scotland would look like.”
Any potential new independence referendum would need formal consent from the Parliament in Westminster, but the British government has clearly stated that “now is not the time” for a new vote on Scottish independence.
Scottish voters had rejected independence in a referendum held on September 18, 2014. However, the incumbent Scottish government argues the Brexit vote “changed circumstances” and that Scotland should not leave the EU against its will.
Nevertheless, it still remains unclear whether an independent Scotland would automatically remain a member of the EU, or would have to re-apply for membership. Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) advocated that an independent Scotland should become a full member state of the European Union.
Other have claimed that Scotland would need to re-apply for membership under article 49 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which would require ratification by each member state.