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Scottish first minister proposes 2023 independence referendum

Scottish first minister proposes 2023 independence referendum
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Tuesday she hopes to hold a referendum in October 2023 on the country’s proposed independence. File Photo by Robert Perry/EPA-EFE

June 28 (UPI) -- Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Tuesday she hopes to hold a second referendum next year on the country's proposed independence.

Sturgeon said Oct. 19, 2023, is the preferred date for what would be the country's second referendum to consider independence from the United Kingdom.

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"Independence is about equipping ourselves to navigate the future, guided by our own values, aspirations and interests," Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament Tuesday.

"Now is the time -- at this critical moment in history -- to debate and decide the future of our country. Now is the time to get Scotland on the right path -- the path chosen by those who live here. Now is the time for independence.

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"This parliament has a clear, democratic mandate to offer Scotland that choice. The U.K. government, regrettably however, is refusing to respect Scottish democracy."

The U.K. government would need to approve the legality of any referendum and legislation would have to be passed by both the U.K. and Scottish parliaments.

Sturgeon sent a formal letter Tuesday to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlining Scotland's position.

Scotland's Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain is also required to make a reference of the provisions in the independence bill to the U.K. Supreme Court.

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"I can confirm that the reference will be filed with the Supreme Court this afternoon," Sturgeon said.

"It is, of course, possible that the Supreme Court will decide that the Scottish Parliament does not have power to legislate for even a consultative referendum. Obviously, that would not be the clarity we hope for. But if that is what the law establishing this Parliament really means, it is better to have that clarity sooner rather than later."

Any vote for independence would need to be more than a simple majority and the rules would need to be agreed upon between the Scottish and U.K. parliaments.

"But if the law says that is not possible, the General Election will be a 'de facto' referendum," Sturgeon said.

Scotland previously held a referendum on its independence in 2014.

On Sept. 18, 2014, Scotland chose to remain in the United Kingdom, rejecting independence in the historic national referendum that had a voter turnout of 84%. More than 55% of voters were against leaving the U.K.

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