LONDON (AP) — Scotland’s Parliament voted to hold a new referendum on Scottish independence, a move intended to increase political pressure on the British government as the United Kingdom (UK) leaves the European Union (EU).
Lawmakers in the Edinburgh-based legislature voted 64-54 to call for holding a referendum “so that the people of Scotland can decide whether they wish it to become an independent country”.
However, the vote will have little immediate effect. A binding referendum cannot take place without the British government’s agreement, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson this month turned down the Scottish government’s request for one on the independence question.
Johnson argued that a 2014 plebiscite, in which Scots rejected independence, was billed as a once-in-a-generation vote and should stand. Scotland’s pro-independence government said Brexit changes everything.
The UK’s long-delayed exit from the EU is due to take place today. “We stand just two days from losing our EU membership and all of the rights that go with it,” said Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. “In my view, it is beyond doubt now that the only realistic way for Scotland to return to the heart of Europe and to ensure we get the governments we vote for is to become an independent country,” Sturgeon said.