The possibility of a second independence referendum will be determined by the end of 2018, the Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC on Sunday.
The timing would allow the Scottish people to vote prior to the UK’s exit from the European Union in March 2019. Theresa May’s government has consistently accused the SNP of undermining the Brexit vote.
Although the Scottish National Party (SNP) came first in June’s 2017 elections in Scotland, the party lost 21 seats to Labour, the Liberals, and the Conservative party. The victory of the so-called unionist parties has been interpreted as a partial rejection of a second independence vote.
Revisiting the theme of an independence referendum comes prior to the publication of an impact assessment report of Brexit for the Scottish economy. Entitled “Scotland’s Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment,” the report is a sector by sector assessment looking at the potential impact on investment and employment.
The Conservative opposition in Scotland wants Sturgeon to stand behind a UK-wide deal on Brexit. A recent study suggests that up to 60% of Scots may in fact favour limiting freedom of movement. Moreover, it is pointed out that Scotland trades within the UK four times as much as the country trades with the Single Market.
Sturgeon supports EU membership, or at least Single Market and Customs Union membership. On Sunday she called on the Labour Party to “get their act together” on the subject. The SNP backed an amendment to the UK’s EU Withdrawal Bill that demands parliamentary debate and approval of a future Brexit deal.
The Scottish first minister believes to have the mandate for a second referendum given the Brexit process, which materially changes the context of the first referendum. While Scots in 2014 were told that they had to remain anchored to the UK in order to remain in the EU, Nicola Sturgeon is now suggesting that leaving the UK maybe the only possibility to Remain in the EU.