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Starting gun fired for another independence referendum after Brexit vote

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

The starting gun has been fired for another independence referendum after Scotland’s thumping endorsement of the EU was nullified by a UK-wide vote for Brexit.

The result brings into play the SNP’s only scenario for another Scottish independence referendum that is explicitly stated in their 2016 manifesto.

Scottish Greens, who are pro-independence, called for Holyrood to “examine and exhaust every option” for saving Scotland’s place in Europe, as Nationalists talked up the prospect of another independence referendum.

Every single part of Scotland voted to stay in the EU as 62% of Scots backing Remain. Turnout north of the border was 67%.

The BBC forecast for the UK as a whole was 52% voting to Leave.

Speaking as it became clear the UK had voted for Brexit, Nicola Sturgeon said the result north of the border “makes clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union”.

She has previously said that “all options” will be open to protect Scotland’s EU status if that is what the public decides.

Earlier today, former First Minister Alex Salmond warned that Scots could hold a second independence referendum if the country is “dragged” out of the European Union.

He said: “Scotland looks like it is going to vote solidly Remain. If there was a Leave vote in England, dragging us out the EU, I’m quite certain Nicola Sturgeon would implement the SNP manifesto.”

SNP MP Joanna Cherry told Sky News: “If the result tonight in Scotland is to remain in the European Union and the rest of the UK takes us out of the European Union against our will then clearly…there would be grounds for a second (independence) referendum.”

Transport minister Humza Yousaf, a close ally of Ms Sturgeon’s, said “no option – including a second (independence) referendum – should be taken off the table.”

The SNP’s manifesto ahead of May’s Scottish Parliament election said Holyrood should have the right to hold a second independence vote if there is a “significant and material” change in circumstances from 2014.

A re-run of the independence referendum was repeatedly touted by Ms Sturgeon should Scotland be dragged out of the EU against its will by votes from elsewhere in the UK.

The SNP leader said this morning:  “Scotland has delivered a strong, unequivocal vote to remain in the EU, and I welcome that endorsement of our European status.

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“And while the overall result remains to be declared, the vote here makes clear that the people of Scotland

“Scotland has contributed significantly to the Remain vote across the UK. That reflects the positive campaign the SNP fought, which highlighted the gains and benefits of our EU membership, and people across Scotland have responded to that positive message.

“We await the final UK-wide result, but Scotland has spoken – and spoken decisively.”

The Scottish Greens have started a petition calling for Holyrood to “examine and exhaust every option for continuing Scotland’s close ties with Europe.”

Co-convener Patrick Harvie said: “It’s devastating to see that the deceitful, manipulative and at times downright racist Brexit campaign has succeeded south of the border, and looks set to tear up the many benefits of EU membership and play fast and loose with our economic future.

“The Leave campaign claimed to be defending democracy, but they now propose to remove the rights of EU citizenship from Scotland regardless of the way people living here voted.

“Scotland must keep open every option for protecting ourselves from this threat. The Scottish Parliament and Government must be represented in the negotiations about what comes next. A cross-party plan of action should be sought, so we can defend our rights as EU citizens.”

Just over two thirds (67%) of eligible voters in Scotland took part in the referendum, with a total of 2,681,179 votes cast north of the border.

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