Scotland May Get Independence Vote If Support for One Climbs
(Bloomberg) -- Scotland could potentially hold another referendum on breaking away from the rest of the U.K. if support for a new vote rises consistently to at least 60% in the polls, according to a British minister.
Backing for holding a referendum would have to be sustained at that level “over a reasonably long period,” Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack told political news website Politico. It follows comments by Michael Gove, the minister responsible for union issues, that a vote could happen if there’s “settled will” for one.
The U.K. government has previously said now is not the time for another vote on Scottish autonomy and that the focus should be on recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, accused Jack of “making up constitutional rules as he goes along.” She is due to set out her program for government next week when parliament reconvenes and will likely reinforce her push for another plebiscite. Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a new referendum in the first half of the new parliamentary term, most likely in 2023.
“We have constitutional rules that are pretty well established in a democracy, that if a party wins the election on a particular proposition, then you get to implement that proposition,” Sturgeon said in Edinburgh on Friday.
While support for Scottish independence rose above 50% for much of the pandemic, more recent polls have shown a relatively even split between supporters and opponents of independence.
The SNP last week reached a cooperation agreement with the pro-independence Scottish Green Party, which gives her a clear majority in the Scottish legislature. Calling another referendum, though, requires the consent of the London government based on the previous one in 2014. Scots voted 55% to 45% to remain in the U.K. in that ballot.
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