Sturgeon puts UK on notice of a second Scottish independence referendum

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has put the UK Government on notice there will be another independence referendum if Scots are forced to leave the EU in a hard Brexit.

Nicola Sturgeon

Photograph by: Gerry McCannNicola Sturgeon

In an opening speech at the Scottish National Party’s annual conference in Glasgow Ms Sturgeon warned UK Prime Minister Theresa May that Scotland would do everything possible to remain an inclusive and outward looking country within Europe.

Ms Sturgeon described plans by the Tory government to alienate EU citizens by ordering UK employers to list foreign workers has having “no place in a modern, multicultural, civilised society”.

She said Scotland was an inclusive country which cherished diversity and valued people for the contribution they make regardless of the country of their birth or the colour of their passport.

Despite an overall UK majority voting for Britain to lave the EU the vast majority of Scots, 62 percent, opted to remain.

“There is no doubt that Brexit is a defining issue of our time – for Scotland and for the UK. It looms over everything. How could it not, given the implications for our economy, our society, our security and our place in the world?,” said Ms Sturgeon, who promised to table specific proposals to protect Scotland’s interests in Europe and remain in the single market – even if the rest of the UK decides to leave.

“My message to the Prime Minister is this. Scotland didn’t choose to be in this situation – your party put us here. In 2014, you told us Scotland was an equal partner in the UK. Well, the moment has come to prove it. If you value the UK – as you say you do – it’s up to you to prove it can work for Scotland,” said Ms Sturgeon, who went on to warn Mrs May of what would happen if Scotland’s wishes are ignored.

“But hear this,” she said. “If you think for one single second that I’m not serious about doing what it takes to protect Scotland’s interests, then think again.

“If you can’t – or won’t – allow us to protect our interests within the UK, then Scotland will have the right to decide, afresh, if it wants to take a different path.

“A UK out of the single market – isolated, inward looking, haemorrhaging jobs, investment and opportunities – will not be the same country that Scotland voted to stay part of in 2014. If that’s the insecure, unstable prospect we face as part of the UK, then no one will have the right to deny Scotland the chance to choose a better future.”

 Card vote on resolutions.

Photograph by: Gerry McCannSNP audience

To a rousing cheer from delegates Ms Sturgeon announced a new draft Independence Referendum Bill will be published next week.

“When Scotland does come to take this decision again – whenever that might be – we must not take for granted how anyone will vote,” she said.

“It will be a new debate – not a rerun of 2014. The case for independence will have to be made and won.”

But, she added: “If the choice we face is an inward looking, insular, Brexit Britain, governed by a right wing Tory party, obsessed with borders and blue passports at the expense of economic strength and stability, or a progressive, outward looking, internationalist Scotland, able to chart our own course and build our own security and prosperity, then that is a case we will win.”