Nicola Sturgeon: 'It's hard to argue against second referendum on terms of Brexit deal'
First Minister suggests lack of clarity provided by the Leave campaign lends force to argument for vote on final Brexit deal
Nicola Sturgeon - image credit: David Anderson
Nicola Sturgeon has admitted that it is hard to argue against the idea of holding a second referendum on the terms of the final Brexit deal.
In an exclusive interview with Holyrood, the First Minister stressed that she is not pushing for a second vote on Brexit at the end of the UK’s negotiations with the EU, but suggested the lack of clarity provided by the Leave side during the EU referendum campaign lent force to the argument of those campaigning for one.
The Liberal Democrat 2017 manifesto included a pledge to hold a second referendum on the terms of Brexit.
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Meanwhile former foreign secretary David Miliband made the same case in August, saying: “People say we must respect the referendum. We should. But democracy did not end on 23 June, 2016. The referendum will be no excuse if the country is driven off a cliff.”
Although the SNP has stopped short of demanding a second vote on the terms of Brexit, the SNP leader said the case for holding one “may be an argument that becomes harder and harder to resist”.
The FM also rejected parallels between the EU referendum and the 2014 vote on independence, saying “whatever people thought of the white paper, it was there, it was substantial, people were well informed on the big issues and knew what they were voting for”.
The SNP campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU, with 62 per cent of Scots voting to maintain membership of the bloc.
She said: “I think there’s a lot of water to go under this bridge but when you hear the case for, not a second Brexit referendum on the principal, but a referendum on the outcome, sometimes it’s quite hard to argue against that because people – and this is very different to the independence referendum – because people literally had no idea what they were voting for.
“So I think it’s an argument that, depending on where things go over the next few months, may actually gather a lot of strength.”
Sturgeon added: “I’m almost making this comment as a sort of observer on it, I’m not about to take up the cudgels for an EU referendum on the deal, I’m simply saying I think there’s an argument, looking at it objectively, there is a force behind that argument.
“In the independence referendum, as I’ve said before, whatever people thought of the white paper, it was there, it was substantial, people were well informed on the big issues and knew what they were voting for. You can’t say that about the EU referendum and 15 months on from that referendum we still don’t know what the outcome is going to be.
“So I’m simply saying that those who make the case have got a reasonable case to make and I’ll simply say that I think over the piece, and it won’t be me who decides this, it won’t be me who’s the instigator of it, but it may be an argument that becomes harder and harder to resist.”
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