Scottish Independence: Nicola Sturgeon lays out route map to Indyref2 - when could vote take place?

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The SNP leader has set out the route map to the next referendum on Scottish Independence, despite Westminster not budging on its stance

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set out the roadmap for the next referendum on Scottish Independence.

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She added the steps in the route map - which included the official wording of the referendum question - will seek to implement a “legal” vote.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set out the roadmap to a new Scottish Independence vote. (Credit: Getty Images)First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set out the roadmap to a new Scottish Independence vote. (Credit: Getty Images)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set out the roadmap to a new Scottish Independence vote. (Credit: Getty Images) | POOL/AFP via Getty Images

When could the next Scottish independence referendum be held?

The First Minister has announced that the Scottish Government will be seeking to hold the vote on 19 October 2023, during the first half of the SNP’s term in government.

The route map laid out by Ms Sturgeon detailed that Westminster should allow a section 30 order to be granted in order for the vote to be held on this date.

Ms Sturgeon says that the Scottish people had delivered a mandate to the Scottish Government for a vote to be held, and that any resistance from Westminster, or any potential legal action as a result, could delay the vote from the proposed date.

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What will the question be on the Scottish independence referendum?

Ms Sturgeon confirmed that the question proposed to be put to voters on 19 October 2023 will be identical to that of the 2014 referendum.

The question will read: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’, with an option of ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

The First Minister explained in her announcement that if the result returns a ‘Yes’ majority, it will not automatically make Scotland independent.

Much like the 2016 Brexit referendum, the vote will be consultative and politicians will then work to achieve independence if Scottish voters choose to leave the union, with Ms Sturgeon explaining: “For Scotland to become independent following a yes vote, legislation would have to be passed by the UK and Scottish Parliaments.”

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Will a legal Scottish independence vote be granted?

While the SNP are make plans to hold the vote, they currently do not have the legal recourse to do so.

The Scottish Government would need to obtain a section 30 order from the UK Government, which gives it temporarily devolved powers in order to hold the vote.

Ms Sturgeon has said that it is a “matter of principle” that a legal vote be held, but Westminster has remained strong in its stance that another referendum on Scottish independence should not be held.

She said: “This parliament has a clear, democratic mandate to offer Scotland that choice. The UK government, regrettably however, is refusing to respect Scottish democracy.

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“The UK and Scottish Governments should be sitting down together, responsibly agreeing a process, including a section 30 order, that allows the Scottish people to decide. That would be the democratic way to proceed.

“The issue of independence cannot be suppressed. It must be resolved democratically. And that must be through a process that is above reproach and commands confidence.”

Ms Sturgeon has confirmed that she has written to Mr Johnson to seek the order to allow the referendum to be held legally.

However, she has urged the UK Government to resolve the issue quickly in order for the route map to be met, court battles to be avoided and for the democratic process to take place.

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The First Minister conceded that “the timetable I have set out today would quickly become difficult to deliver” if legal action was brought against the bill, but revealed that Scotland’s Lord Advocate has referred the Scottish Independence Referendum bill to the Supreme Court if a section 30 order is not granted.

She said: “We must seek now to accelerate to the point when we have legal clarity; legal fact. And crucially, in doing so establish and safeguard the ability of this Parliament to deliver a referendum on the date proposed.

“The Lord Advocate has agreed to make a reference of the provisions in the Bill to the Supreme Court.

“I can confirm that the reference will be filed with the Supreme Court this afternoon.”

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Ms Sturgeon confirmed that if legal action in the Supreme Court fails and a legal vote is not granted, the SNP will stand in the next General Election on a one-stance issue of Scottish Independence, making this vote a “de-facto referendum”.

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