Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon has said an independence referendum should take place next year

Davies

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in a red blazer cheering.

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon has said an independence referendum should take place next year.

Key points:

  • Ms Sturgeon says she wants a new independence vote in 2021, soon after May’s parliamentary elections deliver a mandate
  • Scottish people last voted against independence in 2014 — with votes falling 55-45
  • The UK Government must approve the holding of another referendum but PM Boris Johnson remains opposed

The independence vote could wrench apart the United Kingdom after Brexit.

If there was another referendum and if Scots voted to leave, it would mark the biggest shock to the United Kingdom since Irish independence a century ago — just as London grapples with the impact of Brexit.

The pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) leader said she anticipated a vote would take place “in the earlier part” of the next Scottish parliament, which begins next year.

“The referendum for a whole variety of reasons should be in the earlier part of the next parliament,” the Scottish First Minister told the BBC.

Scots voted 55-45 against independence in a 2014 referendum.

But both Brexit and the British Government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis have bolstered support for independence among Scots.

A man dressed in a Scottish mask and wearing a Scottish flag and wig poses.

Support for Scottish independence has been bolstered by both Brexit and the British Government’s handling of COVID-19.(Reuters: Russell Cheyne)

The past 14 opinion surveys have shown that Scots want independence, in a support rating ranging from 51-59 per cent.

Ms Sturgeon’s SNP is expected to perform strongly in elections to the Scottish Parliament in May.

The SNP will argue that winning that election would be a mandate for another independence referendum.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the 2014 independence referendum was decisive and a once-in-a-generation event, so should be respected.

His government says there should not be another independence referendum in the near future.

But if Ms Sturgeon wins the May 6 Scottish election, Mr Johnson will have a difficult choice: refuse a referendum and thus allow Scottish discontent to simmer, or allow a referendum which could break apart the union he says is so dear to him and his party.

Today, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland includes England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The United Kingdom as a whole voted 52-48 to leave the EU in a 2016 referendum: England and Wales voted to leave but Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay.

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