World Bulletin / News Desk
Scottish people rejected independence in a 2014 referendum, but Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) had promised to reconsider the question if Britain left the European Union.
Voters in Scotland overwhelmingly supported EU membership in this year’s referendum, but were outnumbered elsewhere in the U.K. by those who opted to leave.
Sturgeon announced a consultation exercise on the referendum – a first step towards holding a second vote on independence – which she said would take place before the U.K. leaves the EU in 2019.
“I am determined that Scotland will have the ability to reconsider the question of independence -- and to do so before the U.K. leaves the EU -- if that is necessary to protect our country's interests,” Sturgeon told delegates at an SNP conference in Glasgow.
“So I can confirm today that the Independence Referendum Bill will be published for consultation next week,” she added.
The Scottish First Minister said her plans were motivated by speculation that the U.K. government is planning to withdraw from Europe’s single market in addition to the EU -- described as a “hard Brexit” scenario.
“A hard Brexit will change the UK fundamentally,” Sturgeon said.
“A U.K. out of the single market -- isolated, inward looking, hemorrhaging jobs, investment and opportunities -- will not be the same country that Scotland voted to stay part of in 2014.
“If that's the insecure, unstable prospect we face as part of the U.K., then no one will have the right to deny Scotland the chance to choose a better future.”