MSPs back second referendum – but they may have to wait until 2020s

Written by David Singleton on 28 March 2017 in Diary

The Scottish first minister had hoped the UK government would 'respect the will' of Holyrood.

MSPs have called on Theresa May to give Holyrood the power to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence.

But one of May’s ministers has responded by hardening up the government’s opposition to a second independence referendum.

Following several hours of debate, MSPs voted by 69 to 59 to back the SNP's demands for a so-called 'Section 30' order allowing the Scottish government to stage another poll.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said she hoped the UK government "will respect the will of this parliament". But she added: "If it chooses not to do so, I will return to parliament after the Easter recess to set out the steps the Scottish government will take to progress the will of parliament."

Although the Nationalists no longer have a majority in the Scottish Parliament, they won the historic vote thanks to the support of the six Green MSPs.

The result was greeted by cheers and applause by SNP and Green MSPs.

It went down significantly less well in Westminster, where Scottish secretary David Mundell built on May’s previous position that "now is not the time".

Mundell told the BBC there would be no negotiations about a second referendum "until the Brexit process is complete".

Pressed on what that meant, he appeared to rule out a second referendum until any transitional period was over – which would most likely be at some point in the 2020s.

He said: "We are not entering into negotiations on whether there should be another independence referendum during the Brexit process. It will be a journey that will involve the negotiations with the EU, it may be a journey that involves transitional measures, it may be a journey that will involve significant implementation."

He added: "It is not appropriate to have a referendum while people do not know what the future relationship between the UK and the EU is. And they won’t know that until the Brexit process is complete."





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