London: First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon on Sunday said that she would consider a second referendum on Scottish independence in the first half of next year if British government started the formal process of leaving the European Union without Scotland’s position being safeguarded.
Her comments follow a Friday meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, in which May assured Sturgeon that she would listen to any options brought forward by the Scottish government, BBC reported.
May, however, appeared unwilling to consider a second referendum on Scottish independence, saying people in Scotland sent a “very clear message” in 2014.
May also said she would not trigger article 50 — the formal process of Britain leaving the EU — until there was a “UK approach and objectives”, which, according to the First Minister, meant Scotland had been put in a very, very strong, strong position.
On the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme, when asked about her position if article 50 was triggered in December and the Scottish government was not “on board”, Sturgeon said that was why she was making preparations for a second independence referendum.
“Of course at that point that would be an option and a decision that I would have to consider,” she said.
She also suggested that Scotland could stay in Britain as well as the EU.
She said: “We are in uncharted territory, and when you’re in uncharted territory with effectively a blank sheet of paper in front of you then you have an opportunity to think things that might previously have been unthinkable and shape the future. so I think there are opportunities.”
“I think the positive outcome of the meeting I had with the Prime Minister on Friday was that she said she was prepared to listen to options that the Scottish government would bring forward to give effect to how Scotland voted and we will certainly bring forward options,” BBC quoted her as saying.
She said that in Brussels she had encountered “a warmth, an openness a great sympathy to the position Scotland finds itself in”.
Britain voted to leave EU in June 23 referendum by 52 per cent to 48 per cent while Scotland voted to remain by 62 per cent to 38 per cent.