Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland [official website], said [press release] Monday that she will seek a referendum to allow Scottish citizen to vote on independence from the UK ahead of the British exit from the EU [JURIST report], also referred to as Brexit. This would be the first referendum on independence for Scotland since September 2014, when citizens voted 55-45 to remain in the UK [JURIST report]. Sturgeon said she will request approval from UK Prime Minister Theresa May [official website] for a referendum vote through a Section 30 order [text]. May has not indicated whether she would grant such an approval, although she has voiced opposition [NYT report] to another referendum, saying, “[a]nother referendum would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time.” Noting that Scottish voters were opposed to Brexit, with 62 percent in favor of the UK remaining in the EU, Sturgeon has said she wants a vote on independence to occur between fall of 2018 and spring of 2019, once the Brexit process becomes more clear:
I will continue to stand up for Scotland’s interests during the process of Brexit negotiations. But 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.
Many believe Brexit will negatively effect the British economy, which will likely be cut off from the EU’s single market, unless an agreement between the two can be reached. The government of Scotland announced [JURIST report] in October that it had published a draft bill for a second referendum that would give the country the opportunity to consider independence from the UK. The government explained the move was made to “protect Scotland’s interests in light of the UK vote to leave the EU.”Concern over the economic health of Britain [Reuters report] going into the future led to a global market plunge shortly after the vote, as the pound fell as far as 10 percent against the dollar—a low not seen since 1985. The EU has set out a mechanism for leaving in Article 50 [materials] of the Lisbon Treaty, where a member state “may decide to withdraw from the union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements,” and “must notify the European council of its intention.”