Scotland will start preparing for an independence referendum before May 2021 without permission from London, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Wednesday. Scotland, England’s political partner for more than 300 years and part of the United Kingdom, rejected independence by 10 percentage points in a 2014 referendum. But differences over Brexit have strained relations with the government in London. She said a devolved parliament bill would be drawn up before the end of 2019 and that Scotland, which has 8 percent of Britain’s electorate, did not need permission at this stage from London.
London’s approval, however, would eventually be necessary “to put beyond doubt or challenge our ability to apply the bill to an independence referendum,” she said. With most Scots unhappy at Brexit, Sturgeon is under pressure from independence supporters to offer a clear way forward in the quest to break from the United Kingdom. Sturgeon argued that leaving the world’s largest trading bloc endangers Britain and Scotland’s economic well-being. “We face being forced to the margins, sidelined within a UK that is itself increasingly sidelined on the international stage. Independence by contrast would allow us to protect our place in Europe.”
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