Scotland could be offered a second referendum on independence from the UK, but only after Brexit has completed, according to a report by The Times on Wednesday.
Government ministers are cooking up a scheme to allow Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to hold another vote on breaking from Britain, says The Times, which cites sources within the Scottish government.
Scotland voted against Brexit by a huge margin, and since the vote, Sturgeon has vociferously argued that pulling Scotland out of the EU when the rest of the UK leaves would be undemocratic, and go against the will of the Scottish people.
Some Remain backing Scots have even suggested that it should be allowed to stay in the EU while England, Wales, and Northern Ireland leave. This is highly unlikely.
To extend an olive branch to Scottish voters, the Westminster government will now reportedly offer a new referendum once the UK has formally left the EU, likely to some time in 2019 if the government’s Article 50 timetable stays on schedule.
“UK ministers would argue that the Brexit deal has to be secured first so that Scots know what they are deciding on in an independence referendum. They will need to know what voting to stay in the UK means in terms of deals with Europe,” The Times’ Scottish Political Editor Lindsay McIntosh writes.
Sturgeon has campaigned vociferously for a second referendum, but knows that she cannot trigger one without the issue of a so-called section 30 order — which would allow a referendum to be held. That order would need to be agreed and voted on by both Westminster and Holyrood.
If Sturgeon and her government was allowed to hold a second referendum right now, it seems likely they would lose.
Last week a new YouGov poll put support for Scottish independence at 44% — its lowest level since the September 2014 referendum, when 45% voted to remain part of the UK. In an August YouGov poll, support for the “Yes” vote was 46%, 2 points higher than November levels.
The slump in support has defied the expectations of many politicians who speculated that a vote for Brexit would spell the end of the UK.
Some, including ex-PM David Cameron, argued that a Leave vote would cause a surge in support for independence north of the border, where the majority of people voted to remain in the EU.
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