Scotland’s First MInister Nicola Sturgeon.
Speaking in Edinburgh, Sturgeon said she would ask the Scottish parliament next week to grant her the power to call a new independence referendum.
Sturgeon said May had failed to engage with her call for Scotland to remain in the European single market after Brexit, and that Scotland risked being taken out of the EU against its will.
In the Brexit referendum, Scotland bucked the UK trend and voted 62% to 38% to remain in the EU. Sturgeon said it was for Scots to decide whether they followed the rest of the UK or forged their own path.
“I am ensuring that Scotland’s future … will be decided by the people of Scotland,” she told reporters at Bute House, the official residence of the Scottish first minister.
“It will be Scotland’s choice and I trust the people of Scotland to make that choice.”
Sturgeon said she wanted the referendum to take place between late 2018 and early 2019, before Brexit negotiations are completed. That would enable her to argue that Scotland should stay in the EU as the rest of the UK left.
The UK government must agree to a new Scottish vote. Downing Street on Monday said Sturgeon’s announcement was “divisive” and that May would seek a Brexit deal in the interests of the whole UK.
But the statement stopped short of saying the UK would block a new independence referendum. In the last one, in 2014, Scotland voted 55% to 45% to remain in the UK. Downing Street said there was no appetite in Scotland for a re-run.
It would be politically difficult for the UK government to deny Scotland permission for another referendum. But it may seek to argue about the timing, to avoid fighting a battle over independence in Scotland at the same time as negotiating an exit from the EU.