Nicola Sturgeon has stated she will seek the authority of the Scottish Parliament to hold a second referendum on independence from the UK for Scotland.
In a statement at Bute House, Edinburgh on Monday morning, the First Minister said she would ask Holyrood to use its powers to legislate for another referendum.
In 2014 Scotland held a referendum on independence from the UK. 55.3 per cent of voters in Scotland chose to stay in the UK, to 44.7 per cent in favour of independence.
The defeat of this principle of Sturgeon's Scottish National Party (SNP) did not harm the party at the 2015 UK General Election, where the SNP won 51 seats in Westminster.
Similarly, at the following Scottish parliamentary elections the SNP were returned to Holyrood as the largest party with 48 per cent of the seats and the biggest constituency vote of any party since devolution.
Sturgeon argued in her speech and in response to follow up questions:
- The 2016 SNP manifesto stipulated that a material change, such as Scotland being forced to leave the EU against Scotland's will, would merit a second referendum on remaining in the United Kingdom.
- Doing 'nothing' is the same as agreeing to a 'hard Brexit'.
- May allegedly broke her promise to Sturgeon on 17 January when she told Sturgeon that British access to the single market was 'not a binary' decision, only to announce the contrary in her Lancaster House speech hours later.
- A weak opposition from Labour means the prospect of a centralising Conservative government for the next decade.
- EU powers will return to Westminster, and not been granted to Holyrood as they should be.
- In 2014 with regards to the first referendum on Scottish independence, the UK government said the terms and circumstance of a referendum should be decided by the Scottish people.
In June 2016, while 52 per cent of the UK voted to leave the EU, 62 per cent of Scotland voted to remain in the EU
Sturgeon made clear she felt this was all the fault of Theresa May's government in London, often without even mentioning her name.
She acknowledged the difference between a vote to remain in the EU and a vote for and independent Scotland, and therefore ruled out a unilateral decision.
At a time when we are equipped with the facts that we need.
Sturgeon showed her apparent bafflement that as first minister of Scotland she, like most people, was unaware when article 50 would be triggered.
BBC journalist Michael Crick asked Sturgeon if there was anything the UK government could do to persuade Sturgeon to rule out a referendum.
I'm standing here after several months of trying to find and broker an agreement... I don't know that there is any prospect of them trying to saying anything... I am open to discussions, but the conduct and the response of the UK government thus far tells me they are not interested in, or willing to compromise, and that is how I find myself in the position that I am today.
While she did not set a specific date, Sturgeon suggested Scotland hold the referendum 'at a time when the terms of Brexit are known', roughly between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.
Should article 50 be triggered this week, the UK as a whole will leave the EU in March of 2019.
Sturgeon is therefore suggesting a last minute get out for Scotland.
Asked what Scotland would do if Theresa May refused to hold a referendum on Scottish independence until after the UK has left the EU, Sturgeon said it would be 'unacceptable'.
It would be tantamount to the UK government, having sunk the ship with the Brexit vote, trying puncture Scotland's lifeboat as well.
She also turned her eye on Jeremy Corbyn, who was previously quoted saying a second referendum in Scotland was 'absolutely fine'.
Corbyn has since issued a statement clarifying his remarks.
Sturgeon cited him as an argument in favour of her case, then wryly remarked to the assembled reporters that:
Perhaps that last bit doesn't matter.
Sturgeon's digs at May certainly didn't go unnoticed: