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Nicola Sturgeon sets October 19 2023 as date for independence referendum

© Jane Barlow / PANicola Sturgeon wants another Independence referendum on October 23 2023.
Nicola Sturgeon wants another Independence referendum on October 23 2023.

Nicola Sturgeon has announced a date for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, the first minister said she wanted to have a “legal, constitutional referendum”, announcing a new Bill is to be published at Holyrood for a consultative vote on the matter.

The referendum would be held on October 19 2023, with the question to be asked the same as in the 2014 vote – “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Sturgeon said: “Last May, the people of Scotland said yes to an independence referendum by electing a clear majority of MSPs committed to that outcome.

“The democratic decision was clear.”

She said it was a “matter of principle” that any referendum would be a legal ballot.

Outlining her bid to have an “indisputably legal referendum” she told MSPs at Holyrood: “The Scottish Government is today publishing the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill.”

She said the vote would be held “to ascertain the views of the people of Scotland as to whether or not Scotland should be an independent country.”

She said this would be a consultative referendum as the vote on Brexit was in 2016.

As a result she explained a majority vote would not by itself make Scotland independent, adding: “For Scotland to become independent following a yes vote, legislation would have to be passed by the UK and Scottish Parliaments.”

Warning from Catalonia as Nicola Sturgeon fixes plan for second independence referendum

Sturgeon said she would be writing to Boris Johnson to inform him of her plans.

She added she would make clear she is “ready and willing” to negotiate the terms of a Section 30 order with him, which would give Holyrood the power to hold a referendum.

But with the prime minister having repeatedly refused her calls for another referendum to be held, Sturgeon added: “What I am not willing to do, what I will never do is allow Scottish democracy to be a prisoner of Boris Johnson or any prime minister.”

The first minister stated: “My determination is to secure a process that allows the people of Scotland, whether yes, no or yet to be decided, to express their views in a legal, constitutional referendum so the majority view can be established fairly and democratically.

“The steps I am setting out today seek to achieve that.”

To achieve “legal clarity” over the Scottish Government’s plans, Sturgeon said that Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, the Scottish Government’s most senior law officer, had agreed to refer the matter to the UK Supreme Court.

The first minister stated: “The Lord Advocate has agreed to make a reference of the provisions in the Bill to the Supreme Court.”

Sturgeon said this process was under way “as I speak” saying that this “will be filed with the Supreme Court this afternoon”.

I there was no lawful way for the Scottish Government to hold a referendum, and if Westminster still refused to grant permission for such a vote, Sturgeon said she would fight the next UK general election on the single issue of independence.

She told Holyrood: “If it does transpire that there is no lawful way for this parliament to give the people of Scotland the choice of independence in a referendum, and if the UK Government continues to deny a Section 30 order, my party will fight the UK general election on this single question, should Scotland be an independent country?”

Sturgeon said the processes she had set aimed to bring “clarity and certainty to this debate” so that people in Scotland could have their “say on independence”.

But she added if this was not possible the next general election “will be a de facto referendum”.

She said that in the “weeks and months ahead” the Scottish Government would “make the positive case for independence” and would “do so with commitment, confidence and passion”.

She added: “Let the opposition if they can make the case for continued Westminster rule and then let the people decide.”