March 28 (UPI) — Lawmakers on Tuesday voted to give Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon authority to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence in the near future, even in the face of continued resistance from the British government.
The leader and the majority of citizens have repeatedly expressed a desire to remain part of the European Union — and Britain’s scheduled exit is the driving force behind calls for another referendum vote on the prospect of breaking away.
A previous referendum on the issue, in 2014, showed 55 percent of voters against the proposal, compared to 45 percent who voted in favor of independence.
Leaders hope to hold the referendum in late 2018 or early 2019, when the impact of the kingdom’s departure from the EU becomes clearer.
“It is not my intention to [hold the referendum] confrontationally. Instead I only seek sensible discussion,” Sturgeon told MSPs Tuesday.
Sturgeon’s plans, though, also face opposition from within her own government.
“We won’t be entering any negotiations at all until the Brexit process is complete,” Scottish secretary David Mundell said. “Now is the time for the Scottish government to come together with the U.K. government, work together to get the best possible deal for the U.K., and that means Scotland, as we leave the EU.”
Britain is scheduled to formally exit the EU in March 2019. British Prime Minister Theresa May signed a letter to the EU Tuesday informing the union of its definitive intention to leave.
The British government has said it will block Scotland’s plans for a referendum until after the EU departure is complete.