Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon proposes date for independence referendum

Ballot is set to take place nine years after Scots rejected independence

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pictured at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday where she announced the date for a proposed referendum on independence. Getty Images
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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a date for a proposed referendum on Scottish independence.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, she said she wants to hold another vote on the country’s place in the UK on October 19, 2023.

The question would be: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”, the same as in the 2014 referendum.

The leader of the Scottish National Party said a new bill will be published at the devolved administration in Holyrood for a consultative vote on the matter. The First Minister said the Scottish government would be referring the provisions of its referendum Bill to the UK’s highest court, the Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon.

She said she wanted an “indisputably lawful” referendum to take place, arguing that her opponents would challenge the Scottish Government’s proposal in the courts if she did not go to the judiciary herself.

In the 2014 Scottish referendum, 55 per cent of Scots voted to remain in the UK.

Then-first minister Alex Salmond said there should not be another public vote on the matter for a generation. At the time, Ms Sturgeon was serving as deputy first minister.

Ian Blackford, the SNP's leader in Westminster, tweeted: “The date has been set for the people of Scotland to have a vote on independence, the 19th October 2023.”

Ms Sturgeon said a further ballot would be the only way to address the continuing debate between Scottish nationalists and pro-Union voters. She said she would be writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to inform him of her plans.

She added she would make it clear that she is “ready and willing” to negotiate the terms of a Section 30 order with him, which would give Holyrood the power to hold a referendum.

The Conservative prime minster has repeatedly refused her calls for another referendum to be held. Given his position, Ms Sturgeon said: “What I am not willing to do, what I will never do is allow Scottish democracy to be a prisoner of Boris Johnson or any prime minister.

“My determination is to secure a process that allows the people of Scotland, whether yes, no or yet to be decided, to express their views in a legal, constitutional referendum so the majority view can be established fairly and democratically.

“The steps I am setting out today seek to achieve that.”

Ms Sturgeon said that in the event the court ruled that her proposals are outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, the next general election will become a “de facto referendum”. She said if such a judgment is issued, then “any notion of the UK as a voluntary union of nations is a fiction”.

Mr Johnson said he will “look forward” to hearing what Ms Sturgeon has to say about Scottish independence, but stressed that the four UK nations are “stronger working together”.

Speaking in Germany on the final day of the G7 summit, Mr Johnson said: “Of course we’ll see what she has to say and look forward to that.

“I think the important point to make is that we think the number one priority for the country is the economic pressures, the spikes in the cost of energy.

“Our plan for a stronger economy certainly means that we think that we’re stronger working together but we have good relations with the Scottish government.

“We’ll see what she has to say.”

Updated: June 28, 2022, 9:20 PM