December 4, 2018 / 12:00 PM / 6 days ago

Scottish leader says path to independence is via proper referendum

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland’s pro-independence leader has ruled out seeking to secede from the United Kingdom in any other way but through a properly agreed referendum.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon takes part in a press conference at Bute House in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain November 27, 2018. Andy Buchanan/Pool via REUTERS

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is facing pressure from some nationalists for a fresh push to split from the United Kingdom by calling a referendum without the British parliament’s permission or even just declaring independence outright.

“On the question of a referendum, it is (Scottish National Party) policy, it continues to be SNP policy, that the route to independence is through a referendum,” Sturgeon was reported as saying by The Herald newspaper.

“That is for good reason. That is the way to pass the test any vote of that nature has to pass, a chance for people to unambiguously express a majority view for independence in a process that is legitimate, and would be accepted,” she said.

After Catalonia’s ill-fated referendum on independence from Spain last year Madrid imposed direct rule, saying the vote was illegal. The Catalan nationalist movement has wide support among their peers in Scotland, including within the SNP.

The British parliament at Westminster has to approve any Scottish independence vote, according to British constitutional convention, and Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly ruled that out at present.

In a 2014 referendum, Scots voted 55.3 - 44.7 against breaking away from the United Kingdom.

Currently, support for independence is at around 45 percent, though polls show increasing Scottish opposition to May’s Brexit plans.

Last year, May refused to grant a so-called Section 30 order which would allow another independence vote to take place.

Britain’s main opposition Labour Party last weekend ruled out a deal with Sturgeon that would deliver a second referendum on independence in return for her party’s support for a Labour government.

Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Richard Balmforth

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