ABERDEEN (United Kingdom)
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was set to ramp up the rhetoric in her demands for another secession referendum when she rallies her independence-hungry footsoldiers on Saturday.
Sturgeon was to address a conference of her Scottish National Party (SNP) in the northeastern oil city of Aberdeen, with members fired up by her push for a second vote on pulling Scotland out of the United Kingdom.
Sturgeon caught the British government off-guard on Monday when she demanded a new referendum by early 2019 at the latest, just before the UK is expected to leave the European Union.
In response, British Prime Minister Theresa May said ‘now is not the time’ for another referendum, arguing all energies should be devoted to getting a good Brexit deal for the UK as a whole.
That has outraged the SNP. Sturgeon on Wednesday is set to obtain the Scottish Parliament’s authority for her to ask the British government for the powers to hold a legally-binding referendum.
In Scotland’s 2014 plebiscite, 55 percent backed staying in the UK. But the SNP says the political landscape has dramatically changed since then.
It argues the vote was based on expectations that the UK would remain in the EU, retaining its unhampered access to the European market and the right of job mobility.
These rights could be swept away if May, after last June’s Brexit referendum, brutally severs ties with the EU, the SNP says.
Sturgeon, in remarks trailed ahead of delivery, will warn of the consequences of ignoring the clamour for a second referendum.
“To stand in defiance… would be for the prime minister to shatter beyond repair any notion of the UK as a respectful partnership of equals,” Sturgeon was expected to say.
“Whatever our different opinions on independence, we can all unite around this simple principle — Scotland’s future must be Scotland’s choice.”
On Friday, May, speaking to her centre-right Conservative Party, said the SNP was stuck in the “tunnel vision” of “obsessive nationalism”.
“It is now clear that using Brexit as the pretext to engineer a second independence referendum has been the SNP’s sole objective,” she said.