Scotland Will Get Independence Vote After Covid, Sturgeon Says

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon vowed to stick with her plan to hold another referendum on independence once the country has emerged from the coronavirus pandemic.

As she laid out her priorities for the first 100 days in office following elections this month, Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament that people in Scotland will be given the opportunity to decide their constitutional future as soon as the pandemic has “passed.”

The vote on May 6 was effectively framed as a de-facto ballot on whether Scotland should have another referendum on breaking away from the rest of the U.K. in the wake of Brexit. Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party was re-elected for a fourth term and she has a pro-independence majority in the Edinburgh legislature together with the Greens.

While the U.K. has so far refused to grant permission for a fresh plebiscite, that position is now untenable, she said. “The election result delivered a substantial majority in this parliament for an independence referendum within the current term,” Sturgeon said. “There is no justification for the U.K. government seeking to block that mandate.”

The SNP and Greens have decided to work together to pass legislation and Sturgeon said she is in talks on a formal cooperation agreement. Ministerial jobs for Green lawmakers haven’t been ruled out, she said.

Sturgeon told parliament the most pressing issue for her government is to get Scotland through the pandemic and “steer a careful course back to normality.”

Conservative leader Douglas Ross said her speech wasn’t to unite Scotland, it was to focus on furthering the push for another independence referendum and more pressing issues will take a back seat.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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