EDINBURGH (Reuters) – Britain’s struggles to chart a way out of the European Union are boosting the case for Scottish independence, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Sunday, but she shied away from committing to a date for another referendum vote.
Scotland rejected independence by a 10 percentage point margin in a 2014 vote, and polls indicate that support for it has not shifted significantly since then.
“We will consider the (independence referendum) timing again when we have more clarity on what we face,” Sturgeon said, speaking as her Scottish National Party (SNP) began a three-day conference in Glasgow.
“People watch the chaos that is engulfing the UK right now and people look ahead and see the damage that is likely to be done by this unfolding disaster that is not just Brexit but this incompetent and chaotic approach to Brexit being presided over by (Conservative Prime Minister) Theresa May,” she told the BBC.
“I think the case for Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands (…) is becoming greater and stronger by the day.”
Sturgeon, who heads the devolved Scottish government, saw her party lose more than one third of its seats in Britain’s June election after it mistimed a push for another vote on secession. It subsequently put the plan on hold.
Brexit has put the union of the UK’s four nations under strain because Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain while Wales and the larger England voted to leave.
Britain’s main parties are fighting over what new relationship is needed with the bloc after 40 years of shared trade and politics. May has seen her authority over the Conservatives erode since a June’s snap election in which she lost her parliamentary majority.
That means Britain still has a choice over the shape of its future trading relations, Sturgeon argued.
“I believe so, so strongly, not for ideological reasons but for hard practical reasons, it would be an act of monumental folly for the UK to come out of the single market.”
Reporting by Elisabeth O’Leary and Paul Sandle; Editing by Keith Weir