Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she is willing to discuss the date of the Scottish independence referendum with Theresa May, but insisted it could not be put off for long in the face of Brexit.
Sturgeon said a new independence vote could be held in 2018, before the final deal on the UK’s exit from the EU is sealed. But on Sunday she hinted that she could be willing to wait up to another year.
Sturgeon tabled a motion at the Scottish Parliament asking for the go-ahead. The motion, which will be debated on Wednesday, “mandates” the Scottish Government to start negotiations with the UK Government over holding a rerun of the 2014 referendum.
The First Minister’s motion states that the two governments should hold discussions over the details of a Section 30 order, the legal mechanism used to transfer the powers, so that the Scottish Parliament can legislate for a referendum.
MSPs would decide the timing and franchise for the vote and the question on the ballot paper, the motion states. However, it adds that the most appropriate time would be Sturgeon’s preference of between autumn next year and March 2019.
Theresa May has already rejected this timescale, arguing that Scots cannot make a judgement until they know how Brexit has bedded in.
An Observer poll on Sunday found 54% of people say they believe the chances of the break-up of the UK have increased, against 16% who disagree.
When asked if they believe Scotland would choose independence if Sturgeon called a second referendum, 45% of Scottish voters said they believe the result will favour independence, with 40% predicting a vote to stay in the UK.