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Scottish Parliament Gives Go Ahead for Second Independence Referendum

But without May’s blessing, it’s a no go.

By , a global affairs journalist and the author of The Influence of Soros and Bad Jews.
may and sturgeon
may and sturgeon

Scotland is inching toward another vote to break off from the United Kingdom.

On Tuesday, Scotland’s parliament gave First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s government the go-ahead to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence. MPs voted 69-59 to seek permission to hold a second referendum before Brexit is finalized.

The vote had been slated for last Wednesday, but was rescheduled following the Westminster terrorist attack. Even last Wednesday, it was expected to pass: Between Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party and the Green Party, Sturgeon had the votes.

Scotland is inching toward another vote to break off from the United Kingdom.

On Tuesday, Scotland’s parliament gave First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s government the go-ahead to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence. MPs voted 69-59 to seek permission to hold a second referendum before Brexit is finalized.

The vote had been slated for last Wednesday, but was rescheduled following the Westminster terrorist attack. Even last Wednesday, it was expected to pass: Between Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party and the Green Party, Sturgeon had the votes.

One important “yes” Sturgeon hasn’t been able to secure is that of British Prime Minister Theresa May. Without Westminster’s approval, Scotland cannot hold a second independence referendum. May has said “now is not the time” and that she intends to protect “our precious union.”

That precious union stood the test that was 2014’s referendum on Scottish independence, but that was before 2016’s Brexit referendum passed. Scots voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union, and so, though May is trying to say that this is an opportunity to strengthen ties within the United Kingdom, many believe that a second referendum on Scottish independence would pass..

And with May poised to mark the official beginning of Brexit on Wednesday, Scots may find it difficult to swallow her “no, not now” line — May might be busy with Brexit, but Sturgeon wants to hold the referendum in late 2018 or early 2019, before the United Kingdom is out of the EU and takes Scotland out with it.

Certain British commentators are probably not helping matters. Nigel Farage, the former head of United Kingdom Independence Party who campaigned for Brexit and then resigned from politics, saying, “I want my life back,” only to become a Fox News contributor, has come out against a second Scottish referendum because, he says, it offers “false independence.” One might imagine the Scottish people do not feel that is his decision to make.

The Daily Mail, for its part, helpfully weighed in with nuanced, thoughtful political coverage, by which we mean this sexist cover:

After the Monday meeting at which the photograph in question was taken, Sturgeon said she was  “frustrated by a process that appears not to be listening.”

To recap, then: The Scottish parliament has moved with respect to a second independence referendum, and the British government has moved with respect to Brexit, but the British government has not moved with respect to the Scottish parliament’s move toward a second independence referendum.

Photo credit: Russell Cheyne – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is a global affairs journalist and the author of The Influence of Soros and Bad Jews. Twitter: @emilyctamkin

Tag: Brexit

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