Nicola Sturgeon drops timetable for second Scottish independence referendum
Nicola Sturgeon has ditched her plan for a snap referendum on Scottish independence – just three months after demanding it be held by spring 2019.
In a major U-turn, the First Minister said the Scottish Government would not introduce legislation paving the way for a fresh vote until the terms of Brexit have become clear.
She insisted there was “no doubt” that the SNP, having won the most seats in Scotland the 2016 Holyrood elections and 2017 general election, had the right to hold a vote on leaving the UK before 2022.
But having reflected on the response to her March announcement – and in the wake of the SNP losing 21 seats at the general election – she said the Scottish Government was going to “reset the plan”.
Ms Sturgeon said that the Scottish Government would outline the “best way” for another referendum once the terms of the Brexit became clear “around next autumn”.
“The mandate we have is beyond doubt, but deciding exactly how and when to exercise it is a matter of judgement,” Ms Sturgeon added.
“The Scottish Government remains committed – strongly – to the principle of giving Scotland a choice at the end of this process. But I want to reassure people that our proposal is not for a referendum now or before there is sufficient clarity about the options.”
In March, Ms Sturgeon argued that Scotland should have the right to choose between a future within the UK but outside the EU or to break apart from the Union.
The Scottish Parliament endorsed the proposal, but the UK Government refused to give Holyrood the right to hold another vote.
Speaking before the statement, Prime Minister Theresa May urged Ms Sturgeon to rule out another referendum altogether.
“What I think Nicola Sturgeon should be saying today is that she is going to completely take off the table the question of… a second independence referendum in Scotland,” Mrs May said.
“I think that was the clear message at the general election and I think now is the time for the United Kingdom to be pulling together not being driven apart.”