EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon said on Sunday she would set out her plans for a fresh independence drive as soon as she sees what kind of Brexit deal Prime Minister Theresa May brings back from Brussels.
With her party meeting for its annual conference in Glasgow, Sturgeon is under increasing pressure to explain how Scotland might win independence from the United Kingdom as the clock ticks down on Brexit and her term as first minister.
“When Theresa May comes back and says ‘I’ve got the deal’ we will judge that ... it looks as if it might be November, I will set out my views on the next step at that stage,” Sturgeon told the BBC.
Support for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom would rise to 50 percent from 45 percent, if and when Britain leaves the European Union, a Survation poll showed on Sunday.
The UK government, which has to approve any independence vote, considers the independence issue settled by a 2014 vote in which Scotland voted by 55 to 45 percent to keep the more than 300-year political union intact.
But Sturgeon said Brexit had heightened understanding of Scotland’s quandary - being forced to leave the EU even though it voted to stay - and that independence itself was inevitable.
“I think Scottish independence will happen,” she said. “Brexit brings the issues around this very sharply into focus - that democratic deficit that we’ve seen in the last two years.”
Scotland, one of the UK’s four nations, voted to keep its EU membership by 62-38 percent. But Britain’s overall vote to leave takes Scotland with it, and polls show Scots are increasingly opposed to the idea.
The fervour of Sturgeon’s members to cut loose from the UK will be clear at the SNP conference, and tens of thousands marched through the streets of Edinburgh on Saturday to show support for Scottish independence.
After two years of increasingly acrimonious politics following a 2016 52-48 percent Brexit vote, London now appears to be on the brink of a deal with Brussels which would see Britain leave the EU’s customs union and single market but retain close ties to facilitate trade.
Sturgeon, who heads Scotland’s devolved government and its biggest party, said May would bring back a “cobbled-together” Brexit deal that her lawmakers would not be able to support when it is put to a vote in the British parliament.
That confirmed May cannot rely on any SNP support in what is expected to be a tight vote to approve the outcome of her negotiations.
Sturgeon said she expected her lawmakers in the British parliament to push for a rethink and even a second referendum rather than the current plan for lawmakers to be given a choice between accepting May’s deal, or leaving without a deal.
“The UK cannot find itself where it faces a bad outcome or a worse outcome. There has to space for common sense and calm consideration,” Sturgeon said.
Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary, additional reporting by William James; Editing by Dale Hudson