Scotland's Nicola Sturgeon formally requests referendum

Cheryl Sanders
March 31, 2017

A handout picture released by the Scottish Government shows Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon working on her Section 30 letter to the British Prime Minister Theresa May requesting a second Scottish independence referendum on March 30, 2017.

Sturgeon, who has been First Minister of Scotland since 2014, told the United Kingdom prime minister that her mandate for another plebiscite was "beyond question" and argued that it would be "democratically indefensible" if May failed to grant the vote.

The letter followed a 69-59 vote in the Scottish Parliament this week in favor of asking for an independence referendum.

You confirmed to me on Monday, and repeated in your letter invoking Article 50, that you intend the terms of both the UK's exit from the European Union and of a future trade deal to be agreed before March 2019 and in time for ratification by other member states - in other words, between the autumn of next year and the spring of 2019.

"The people of Scotland must have the right to choose our own future", Sturgeon, leader of the ruling Scottish National Party, said in the letter.

A spokesman for Ms May said the British government would respond in due course, but ruled out discussions on a second secession vote.

"There appears to be no rational reason for you to stand in the way of the will of the Scottish parliament and I hope you will not do so", Ms Sturgeon said. May has made clear she does not believe it is the time for another vote. Scots rejected independence in a 2014 vote by 55 to 45%, but Sturgeon says the situation has changed because of Brexit.

The Scottish first minister said her mandate for another vote is now "beyond question", and warned it would be "democratically indefensible and utterly unsustainable" to attempt to stand in the way.

May's Downing Street office confirmed that the letter had been received.

"I don't take for granted how people would vote when that choice comes but I hope we can all agree that the future of our country is our choice".

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: "At the very moment we should be uniting as a country to get the good deal out of Brexit, Nicola Sturgeon is trying to divide us again".

Sturgeon has already indicated she will take unspecified "steps" for holding a referendum in case her request for one is ignored.

Some 62 percent of Scottish voters were in favor of remaining in the European Union in last June's plebiscite.

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