LONDON The “sheer intransigence” of the British government over Brexit could lead to a second Scottish independence referendum, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday, warning time was running out for the country to change course.
Writing in the Times newspaper, Sturgeon said Britain’s vote to leave the European Union had changed the landscape since Scotland last held a referendum on its independence, voting by a 10-point margin to remain a part of the United Kingdom in 2014.
“If an independence referendum does arise, it will not be down to bad faith on the part of the Scottish government, but to sheer intransigence on the part of the UK government,” Sturgeon said. “It is not too late for the UK government to change course, but time is running out.”
While voters in England and Wales strongly supported leaving the EU in last June’s referendum, Scots overwhelmingly backed staying inside the bloc.
Speculation about a possible second Scottish secession vote has increased in the last week with media reports suggesting nationalists were preparing to call for a referendum as early as next month to coincide with Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to formally trigger Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Sources told Reuters last week that the semi-autonomous Scottish government, which is run by Sturgeon’s pro-independence Scottish National Party, was increasingly confident it could win a second independence vote.
On Monday, a British government spokesman said the threat of a new Scottish referendum was creating unnecessary uncertainty and division.
“The question is not whether there could be a second referendum, it is whether there should be one – and the clear answer to that is no,” a spokesman for May said.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Michael Holden)