March 13 (UPI) -- Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Monday she will seek a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Sturgeon, who as first minister is head of Scotland's government within the United Kingdom, said in an address that Scotland's people deserve a choice between a "hard Brexit" in which the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, and independence. In the June 2016 referendum, the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, although Scotland voted by 62 percent to 38 percent to remain.
Scotland's parliament has a pro-independence majority, and the Scottish government has published proposals outlining how Scotland could remain in the European Union, even after the U.K. leaves.
The permission of British Prime Minister Theresa May, however, is required to begin an independence referendum.
May's spokesman responded to Sturgeon's announcement by saying the evidence shows most people in Scotland don't want another referendum.
"Only a little over two years ago people in Scotland voted decisively to remain part of our United Kingdom in a referendum which the Scottish government defined as a 'once in a generation' vote." he said. "Another referendum would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time."
Sturgeon said in the past she wants an independence vote by the spring of 2019, before the U.K. exit from the EU is complete.
"I will take the steps necessary now to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process. A choice of whether to follow the U.K. to a hard Brexit, or to become an independent country able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the U.K. and our own relationship with Europe," she said Monday.