Theresa May will be blocking the “sovereign right of the people of Scotland” if she MSPs back a second independence referendum, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Holyrood will host a two-day debate on whether or not to request a section 30 order from the UK Government, required to hold a legally valid vote on the constitution.
Despite being in minority government, it is expected that the SNP’s motion will pass with support from the Scottish Greens after Wednesday night’s division.
Every other party in the Scottish Parliament is opposed to another ballot and will vote against the plans.
Ms Sturgeon, the First Minister, wants to hold a second referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 to coincide with the expected end of the Brexit negotiations.
Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out even discussing such a timescale, however, saying “now is not the time” to go back to the polls.
Ms Sturgeon said: “If MSPs pass this motion this week, then the Prime Minister’s position of blocking a referendum and forcing through a hard Brexit without giving the people a choice will be democratically indefensible.
“The sovereign right of the people of Scotland to determine the form of government best suited to their needs is a longstanding and widely-accepted principle.
“Brexit will fundamentally change the form of government in Scotland – a change that Scotland opposed. The people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union, yet we now face being dragged out of Europe – and the single market – against our will.”
Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour’s leader, pointed out that the SNP has ignored parliamentary votes on five occasions since the 2016 election.
These MSPs have backed banning fracking, repealing the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, closing or downgrading NHS services, keeping the Scottish Funding Council, and keeping the Highlands and Islands Enterprise Board to no action from ministers.
Ms Dugdale said: “Nicola Sturgeon wakes up every single day thinking of ways to engineer another referendum because leaving the UK is the only thing that matters to her.
“It isn’t improving education in Scotland; it isn’t lifting children out of poverty; it isn’t giving us a health service fit for the 21st century. It’s independence – she is a nationalist and that will always come first.
“But the will of the Scottish people was very clearly expressed in 2014.
“Eighty five per cent of our fellow citizens voted in the first referendum, and they voted by a very clear majority to remain in the United Kingdom.”
Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, said on Sunday that calls for a second independence referendum would be “against the majority wishes”.
She told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show that Nicola Sturgeon was “hell bent” on destroying the United Kingdom and described Brexit as “this week’s excuse” for another independence referendum.
Ms Davidson said: “The SNP is not Scotland and they are acting against the majority wishes of the people of Scotland in putting forward their proposition on Monday.
“I’ve read far too many headlines saying, ‘Scotland reacts X, Scotland reacts Y’. No, it doesn’t.
“There are people right across Scotland, many, many thousands of them, that are so thankful for the Prime Minister to say let’s take a pause on this.”
She said it was “astonishing” that the SNP had not outlined a plan for independence during their spring conference in Aberdeen over the weekend.
Ms Davidson added: “We have asked basic questions on things like currency, on things like a central bank, on things like whether we would even rejoin Europe as a full member, and Nicola Sturgeon seems unable to commit to that.”