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Scotland moves forward on independence bid

Scottish government in 2014 pegged a would-be solo economy on oil and gas revenue.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Scotland moves forward on independence bid
Scotland ready to make another go at independence from the United Kingdom. An effort in 2014 relied in part on oil and gas revenue. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

EDINBURGH, Scotland, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- The Scottish government said Thursday it was taking another look at independence, two years after betting it could go alone using oil and gas revenue.

The Scottish government said it published a draft bill to reconsider a bid for independence before their British counterparts break away from the European Union.

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"It is important that a referendum on independence, like that in 2014, meets the gold standard in terms of fairness, transparency and propriety," Scottish Constitution Secretary Derek Mackay said in a statement.

Scotland pegged its future during its last bid for independence on revenue from oil and gas reserves in the North Sea. The bid failed in 2014 and the government said since that the region's energy sector needs a predictable set of governing policies in order to thrive.

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More than 60 percent of the Scottish voters checked a ballot in June to stay in the European Union

With crude oil prices down 50 percent from what they were in the wake of a Scottish vote for independence two years ago, energy companies like BP are cutting back and, as a result, thousands of jobs have been lost in the British oil and gas sector so far this year.

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The Scottish government said its oil and gas industry is adjusting to a market where oil has hovered in the mid- to upper-$40 range for the better part of a year and is now above $50 per barrel. In September, Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said the government has a duty to build confidence in the energy sector, however, given the uncertainty tied to Britain's vote to leave the EU.

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The consultation paper on the bid for independence offers proposals only on how the referendum would be run. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there are serious concerns for her country as the British government charts its course out of the EU.

"We face unacceptable risks to our democratic, economic and social interests and to the right of the Scottish Parliament to have its say," she said.

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