Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called Theresa May’s decision to pursue a hard Brexit “economically catastrophic” — and believes a second Scottish independence referendum is now “more likely.”
May confirmed in a speech on Tuesday morning that Britain will leave the EU’s free-trade area in order to gain full control of immigration from the bloc.
Sturgeon believes, however, that she has the mandate to keep Scotland in the single market, as the country voted to remain in the EU by a margin of 62% to 38%.
She said in a statement: “Scotland did not vote for the direction set out in the Prime Minister’s speech today — and it is not in our national interests.”
She added: “Decisions are being driven not by the rational best interests of the country, but by the obsessions of the hard-right of the Tory party.”
The Scottish government laid out plans in December to keep Scotland in the single market even if the rest of the UK leaves, but May insisted at the time the UK will be “unified” in its response to Brexit negotiations, meaning that Scotland will almost certainly leave the single market along with the rest of the UK.
Sturgeon said: “The UK Government cannot be allowed to take us out of the EU and the single market, regardless of the impact on our economy, jobs, living standards and our reputation as an open, tolerant country, without Scotland having the ability to choose between that and a different future.”
In a line that heavily suggests the Scottish government will officially call for an independence referendum, Sturgeon concluded: “With her comments today, the Prime Minister has only succeeded in making that choice more likely.”
A second referendum still remains a remote possibility, however, given that the power to grant a referendum ultimately lies with Westminster, not Holyrood, and prime minister Theresa May has already ruled one out, saying there was “no need.”
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