Sturgeon announces second independence referendum
First minister Nicola Sturgeon this morning announced that she is to ask permission to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Speaking to the press at Bute House in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said the timing of another vote will be determined by the Scottish Parliament.
However, she stated that she preferred for the vote to be between autumn in 2018 and spring 2019.
She plans to ask the Scottish Parliament next week for permission to request a section 30 order from Westminster, which would grant the power for a legally binding referendum.
Making the announcement, Ms Sturgeon stated that Scotland is at a “hugely important crossroads”.
She said: “I will take the steps necessary now to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process.
“A choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit, or to become an independent country able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the UK and our own relationship with Europe.”
Sturgeon adds: “The Scottish government’s mandate for offering this choice is beyond doubt.”
However, the move was condemned by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson who branded it “utterly irresponsible”.
Ms Davidson said: “Nicola Sturgeon promised the 2014 referendum would be ‘once in a generation’.
“Today she has ignored the majority in Scotland who do not want a referendum and has decided instead to double down on division and uncertainty.
“The First Minister’s proposal offers Scotland the worst of all worlds. Her timetable would force people to vote blind on the biggest political decision a country could face.
“This is utterly irresponsible and has been taken by the First Minister purely for partisan political reasons.
“Both No and Yes voters have been urging her to put this to one side - but because of her own rash decision to use Brexit in a bid to lever support for independence, she has ignored them completely.
“Quite simply, today the First Minister has failed in her job to act in the interests of all of us.”
David Watt, Executive Director of the Institute of Directors in Scotland, said: “Not many in the Scottish business community wanted Brexit, and equally, few want a renewed Independence Referendum, and the associated continuation of uncertainty which has had such an impact on the ability of businesses to move forward with their plans.
“The modern world presents a multitude of opportunities for businesses to innovate and prosper, and this rather than constitutional arguments is the preferred focus of IoD members. However, if the political will is to move forward with another vote, business will react appropriately and continue to face up to the challenges that such political activity presents.”
And Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “FSB survey work conducted after last year’s Scottish Parliament elections, but before the poll on Europe, revealed very little appetite amongst smaller firms for another independence referendum.
“Of course, there’s a lot more going on now – in terms of faltering confidence and rising costs – than there was last May. What we don’t know is if these changes have shifted views one way or the other, but I daresay that will become apparent in the weeks and months ahead.”
David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “The retail industry is going through an unprecedented period of transition as it adapts to changes in consumer behaviour and technological innovation. The fundamental nature of this change means retailers are very conscious of economic and political events which can further affect their businesses. If there is to be a further referendum on Scottish independence then there will be an undoubted thirst for clarity over what it all means and what the ultimate economic impact will be.
“The SRC will seek to consult and work with our members to help them better understand what the implications are for the industry and for their business, staff and supply chain, and crucially for their customers.”
Despite the announcement, the pound continued to gain ground on the dollar.
A brief dip followed Ms Sturgeon’s press conference but sterling quickly recovered and remains 0.5 per cent higher against the dollar at $1.223.