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Scotland leader launches campaign for new independence vote

LONDON (AP) – Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched her campaign for a second independence referendum yesterday, arguing that Scotland would be economically better off outside the United Kingdom (UK).

Sturgeon, who leads the Scottish National Party and the devolved government in Scotland, said it’s the right time to revisit the case for Scotland to leave the UK.

“After everything that has happened – Brexit, COVID-19, Boris Johnson – it is time to set out a different and better vision,” she said as she released the first in a series of government papers laying out arguments for independence.

Scotland rejected independence in a 2014 referendum, with 55 per cent of voters saying they wanted to remain part of the UK.
Sturgeon has said she wants a new vote on independence before the end of 2023.

That would need a green light from the UK-wide government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who opposes a new referendum.
But Sturgeon argued that the landscape has changed since then, most importantly because of Britain’s departure from the European Union, a move opposed by a majority of people in Scotland.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon during an interview. PHOTO: AP

“Had we known in 2014 everything we know now about the path the UK would have taken, then I’ve got no doubt Scotland would have voted yes back then,” Sturgeon said in an interview with the BBC.

Sturgeon said that when she was re-elected as First Minister last year, it was on a “clear commitment to give the people of Scotland the choice of becoming an independent country”. She said yesterday the Scottish Parliament has an “indisputable democratic mandate” for the vote.

She urged Johnson’s government to grant a special order allowing a legally binding independence referendum to be held.

Johnson’s office again rejected the bid. “The UK government’s position is that now is not the time to be talking about another referendum,” Johnson’s official spokesman said.

“We are confident that the people of Scotland want and expect their governments to be working together to focus on issues like the global cost-of-living challenges, like war in Europe and the issues that matter to their families and their communities,” he added.

Sturgeon unveiled the first in the Scottish government’s Building a New Scotland papers, which argues that neighbouring, independent countries of Scotland’s size are wealthier and fairer.

She maintained that decision-making in London is holding back Scotland’s potential, adding, “We have a prime minister with no democratic authority in Scotland and no moral authority anywhere in the UK.”