What Has Nicola Sturgeon Just Announced On A Second Independence Referendum?

Scotland's first minister wants the country to vote on leaving the UK on October 19, 2023.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivers a statement to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, on her plans to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence before the end of 2023.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivers a statement to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, on her plans to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence before the end of 2023.
Lesley Martin via PA Wire/PA Images

Nicola Sturgeon today unveiled her latest strategy for achieving Scottish independence.

HuffPost UK takes you through what’s been announced and what is likely to happen next.

What has Nicola Sturgeon announced?

That she wants a second independence referendum (her side lost the first one in 2014 by 55 per cent to 45 per cent) to take place on October 19, 2023.

What are the chances of that happening?

Slim to non-existent.

Sturgeon has written to Boris Johnson seeking to negotiation a so-called “Section 30 order”, which would give the Scottish government the legal power to stage indyref2.

The slight snag, however, is that the prime minister has repeatedly insisted that he will do no such thing.

And just to confirm that, a UK government spokesperson said tonight: “We are clear that now is not the time to be talking about another independence referendum.

“People across Scotland want to see both of their governments working together on the issues that matter to them. That includes tackling the cost of living, ensuring energy security, leading the international response against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and growing our economy. That remains our priority.”

So that’s that, then?

Nope.

Sturgeon has also referred her plans to the UK supreme court – the highest legal body in the land – so they can establish whether or not the Scottish Parliament does actually have the power to arrange a referendum.

If, as most legal experts believe, the court says Holyrood does not have the power, the SNP leader said her party would make the next general election – due in 2024 – a “de facto” vote on independence.

She said: “If it does transpire that there is no lawful way for this parliament to give the people of Scotland the choice of independence in a referendum and if the UK government continues to deny a Section 30 order, my party will face the UK general election on this single question: should Scotland be an independent country?”

Do Scots want another referendum next year?

Not according to the latest opinion polls.

A recent YouGov survey showed that 59 per cent of Scots do not want a referendum in 2023, with just 28 per cent supporting it.

However, they are split 42-41 per cent on whether it should take place in the next five years.

Polling suggests Scots don't want a referendum next year
Polling suggests Scots don't want a referendum next year
YouGov

What have the other parties said?

Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, said it was too soon after Covid-19 for a referendum to take place.

He said: “For households across Scotland, it doesn’t feel like this crisis is over.

“Isn’t it the case that the ‘pandemic Nicola’ that said she wanted to pull us through is gone and the partisan Nicola Sturgeon that wants to divide our country is back, pursuing a referendum that two-thirds of Scots don’t want right now?”

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said his party would not take part in an illegal referendum.

He said: “We won’t play Nicola Sturgeon’s games. We won’t take part in a pretend poll when there is real work to be done.

“Real work on the global cost-of-living crisis, real work to invest in public services, real work to rebuild our economy. Those are our priorities and they’re the priorities of people across Scotland as well.

“But instead of focusing on the right priorities, Nicola Sturgeon is rail-roading this parliament into talking about the SNP’s obsession.

“On the first minister’s watch, this is becoming a do-nothing Parliament.”

What happens next?

We wait for Boris Johnson to respond to Sturgeon’s letter requesting a Section 30 order, and for the supreme court to rule on the legality of Holyrood holding its own referendum.

It would be a brave person, however, who bet on it happening on the first minister’s preferred date of October 19, 2023.

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