After Vote, Scottish Party Plans Independence Push

Referendum needs approval of Boris Johnson, who rejects the idea
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2021 4:45 PM CDT
Scottish Vote Sets Up Independence Showdown
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon celebrates Friday in Glasgow after retaining her seat in the Scottish Parliamentary Elections.   (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

A referendum on Scottish independence is the "will of the country," First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared Saturday after election results were in. Her Scottish National Party fell one seat short of winning a majority of seats in Parliament but will have the support of allied parties that support independence, the Washington Post reports. That sets up a clash with Britain's prime minister. "Given that outcome,” she added, “there is simply no democratic justification whatsoever for Boris Johnson or anyone else seeking to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our future." A vote would require the approval of the British government. Johnson could refuse to allow a vote, citing the National Party's lack of a clear majority. But its showing will increase pressure on him, per the Wall Street Journal, possibly leading to a standoff.

At the same time, Johnson's Conservative Party was winning regional elections throughout England, per the New York Times. But Johnson is unpopular in Scotland, and it's not clear that he'd have much success against pro-independence sentiment there. Voters rejected independence in 2014, 55%-45%. Polls show an even split now. Johnson sounded Friday like he's in no mood for a vote. "I think a referendum in the current context is irresponsible and reckless," he said. "I think that there’s no case now for such a thing." If Sturgeon gets referendum legislation through Parliament, Scotland's government could take the issue to court and argue that the decision on calling a vote should be its alone. Polls show strong support for independence from Britain among young people. "We've seen time and time again that Scotland’s voice doesn't matter," a 19-year-old student said. (Read more Scotland independence stories.)

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