MSPs to vote on new independence referendum
Parliament will be asked to agree that "a referendum should be held" and that the timing should be determined by the Scottish Parliament
MSPs will today be asked to back calls for a new independence referendum in a Holyrood vote.
A motion tabled by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon titled "Scotland's Future" urges the UK Government to come to an agreement with the Scottish Government on allowing a referendum to take place this year.
Parliament will be asked to agree that "a referendum should be held" and that the timing should be determined by the Scottish Parliament.
The vote is expected to pass with the Scottish Greens and potentially some Scottish Labour MSPs backing the SNP government's motion.
The Scottish Conservatives have criticised the vote and tabled an amendment to Sturgeon's motion in the name of interim-leader Jackson Carlaw which says "that the sovereign right of the people of Scotland was exercised in 2014 when more than two million people voted to reject independence".
An official request for the powers to hold a referendum was submitted by the First Minister to Prime Minister Boris Johnson before Christmas, but it was rejected by the PM last week.
Sturgeon said in response to the knock-back from Johnson that she would lay out her "next steps" on Friday 31 January, the day the UK is to leave the EU.
The leader of Scottish Labour, Richard Leonard, added his own amendment to Sturgeon's motion, proposing instead "the pursuance of Home Rule".
And the Liberal Democrats' amendment suggests that "the people of Scotland want the Scottish Government to focus on" other issues such as health and education, "all of which are currently being given secondary status to the issue of independence."
Speaking ahead of the vote, Sturgeon said: “Today the Scottish Parliament has the opportunity to endorse a fundamental democratic principle – that this country has the right to choose its own future.
“This week, Scotland will be pulled out of Europe against its will and without its consent – an event which marks a significant and material change in circumstances since 2014.
“Throughout the Brexit process, the views of the Scottish Parliament, and the people of Scotland, have been consistently ignored.
“This Government has a clear mandate – to exercise the right of this country to take its future into its own hands.
“That mandate comes directly from the freely exercised will of the people, and simply cannot be ignored or denied indefinitely. There are now fundamental issues of democracy at stake – quite simply, Scotland must have the right to choose its own future.
“Our proposal is for a referendum offering the people of Scotland the choice of independence to take place this year, on a date and in a manner to be determined by the Scottish Parliament.
“The significance of today’s debate should not be underestimated. It takes place just two days before Scotland and the rest of the UK are taken out of the EU, and the vote of the Scottish Parliament will be noticed around Europe and beyond.
“It is my fervent hope and belief that Scotland will rejoin the European family of nations as an equal, independent country.”
The Scottish Government motion in full reads: "That the Parliament recognises the sovereign right of the people of Scotland to determine the form of government best suited to their needs; agrees with the cross-party Smith Commission report published after the 2014 referendum and backed by the UK Government that "nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose"; recognises that there has been a material change in circumstances since 2014 and that a referendum should be held so that the people of Scotland can decide whether they wish it to become an independent country, and calls on the UK Government to reach an agreement with the Scottish Government on such a referendum taking place on a date and in a manner determined by the Scottish Parliament, which the Scottish Government proposes should take place in 2020."