Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday unveiled plans for a new independence referendum in case her demands for more autonomy and for Scotland to stay in Europe’s single market are not met.
Sturgeon said she would publish a draft referendum bill next week, accusing the British government of pushing for a “hard Brexit” and stirring up “xenophobia” with proposals to cut EU immigration.
“I can confirm today that the independence referendum bill will be published for consultation next week” in the Scottish parliament, Sturgeon told delegates at her Scottish National Party’s annual conference.
“I am determined that Scotland will have the ability to reconsider the question of independence and to do so before the UK leaves the EU if that is necessary to protect our country’s interest.”
Scotland, which has a semi-autonomous status within Britain, voted by 55% in favour of staying in the United Kingdom in an independence vote in 2014.
In the EU membership referendum earlier this year Scotland voted by 62% in favour of remaining part of the bloc while Britain as a whole voted to leave.
Reacting to Sturgeon’s announcement, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said: “This issue was addressed in 2014. We should focus on working together on the best deal for the UK”.