Sturgeon says the SNP is unlikely to vote to trigger Brexit
European Commission Berlaymont Building - Image credit: Fotolia
Nicola Sturgeon has said the SNP is unlikely to vote to trigger the process of leaving the European Union in the Commons as she confirmed her plans to hold a second independence referendum in the event of a hard Brexit.
Sturgeon said she can't foresee any circumstances in which the SNP would to vote to trigger Article 50, which begins the EU withdrawal process.
The First Minister told a packed audience at the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) that she remains committed to Scottish independence, even teasing the 1,200 strong crowd that she was about to announce the date.
High Court judges have ruled that the UK Government must seek the approval of parliament before it can trigger Article 50, but it has appealed the decision at the Supreme Court.
Sturgeon has indicated that her government may want to be an active participant in opposing the appeal, amid fears the ruling could intrude on Scotland's devolved powers.
She said: “I can’t really foresee the circumstances where SNP MPs would vote to trigger Article 50, not because I want to thwart the will of people in England and Wales but because SNP MPs represent constituencies in Scotland and every single constituency in Scotland voted to Remain.”
She added: “In terms of (becoming an active participant in) the Supreme Court case, we are considering that right now and obviously taking advice from our legal advisers.
“We haven’t reached a final decision on that but we will do that within the next couple of days, there are obviously time pressures on that, but there are big issues for Scotland.”
She pledged to outline her options for keeping Scotland in the EU in the next few weeks, but warned a hard Brexit is likely to trigger a second independence vote.
She said: “I can announce tonight that the date of the second Scottish independence referendum will be, erm, yeah.
"Look, I’ve been very clear that I’m a lifelong advocate of Scottish independence so I want Scotland to be independent and I think Scotland will become independent.
“Actually, I think it will be one of the best things, probably, that happens to relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
“We will cease to be, what we sometimes can be, a bit gurning and moaning about the things that are done to us and take responsibility.
“I think that will actually have a positive benefit for the rest of the UK as well.
“The morning after the EU referendum I could have quite easily said, that’s it, we’re going to have a second referendum because our manifesto in May for the Scottish Parliament referendum said if this scenario happened then the Scottish Parliament would have the right to have another referendum.
“I decided to take a different approach, to explore all options to protect our interests.
“But, you know, let me be plain about it, if we get into a situation where, not withstanding all the warm words we heard two years ago about the UK being a partnership of equal nations, that actually Scotland’s voice doesn’t matter, our interests don’t matter and we’ve got a UK Government that is going to do whatever it likes, then yes I do think in those circumstance we will be in a situation of having another independence referendum.
“Because I think the people of Scotland will have the right to choose at the point.
“Do we want to go down that road of being dragged off the hard Brexit cliff by Theresa May, David Davis and Boris Johnson - God what a prospect - or do we want to choose the option of something better.
“So we’re not at that stage yet, but if that is the situation we find ourselves in then I hope people would understand the reasonableness of seeking to give ourselves that option again.”
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