Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that she will push for a second referendum on Scottish independence if her party is voted back into power in the upcoming elections.
“There will be another independence referendum if the people of Scotland vote for another independence referendum,” she told the devolved parliament in Edinburgh on Wednesday (24 March).
Sturgeon this week survived a no-confidence vote after a turbulent period in which she has been under pressure about her government’s handling of harassment complaints against her predecessor.
Having been cleared of breaching the ministerial code, Sturgeon will lead her Scottish National Party (SNP) into Scottish parliament elections on 6 May.
Sturgeon, in power since 2014, said it would be a chance to put her record before the people, with predictions the SNP will win a majority, strengthening their push for another independence vote.
Scots voted against independence in 2014 but the SNP argues that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU – which the majority of Scots opposed – has dramatically changed the political calculus.
The SNP this week set out plans to hold a referendum by the end of 2023 but the party is expected to face strong resistance from the UK government in London, which has to grant powers for a vote.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly ruled out doing so and has called the 2014 referendum a “once-in-a-generation” vote.
He told a parliamentary committee in London on Wednesday he was “very keen to respect that vote” and that any new referendum would be “toxic and divisive”.
Sturgeon, 50, has won popular support from her handling of Edinburgh’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
But there have been indications the furore involving her former mentor Alex Salmond, dented backing for independence.
Opinon polls show Scots evenly split as to whether to stay part of the United Kingdom or go their own way, according to opinion polls.