The consequences of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union have always been wide-ranging, but Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has just upped the ante. On Wednesday, she called for a new Scottish independence referendum should Britain leave the EU. This vote would take place by 2021.
In a 2014 referendum, Scots voted against independence by a relatively slim margin — 54 percent to 46 percent — though the political climate has significantly shifted since then, in the wake of the Brexit controversy.
Even though the UK voted to leave the EU in the 2016 Brexit vote, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain, signifying a fissure between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Sturgeon argues that the Scottish people have already made their voices heard on the issue, and they should not be dragged out of the EU against their will.
Although actually holding the referendum would require approval from the British government, Sturgeon has said that the Scottish parliament would introduce legislation setting the parameters of a new vote.
The British government, however, is not ready to allow such a vote to go forward anytime soon. Davi Mundell, the British government’s secretary of state for Scotland, said that Sturgeon “continues to press for divisive constitutional change when it is clear that most people in Scotland do not want another independence referendum.”
In response, Sturgeon argues that if there is sufficient demand for independence, “then no UK government will be able to stop the will of the people.”
Brexit was initially scheduled to take place last month but has been delayed until October 31 as Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to obtain parliamentary support.