Scottish parliament set to approve plan for second independence vote

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Scotland’s devolved parliament is expected on Tuesday to set the stage for a second attempt at an independence referendum, just three years after a similar effort failed.

If approved, the plan by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would call for opening formal talks with the British government on a new referendum.

Sturgeon, who leads the Scottish National Party (SNP), has asked the parliament to approve her plan after complaining that her efforts to seek a compromise on Britain’s exit from the European Union were met with intransigence from Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government.

After meeting May on Monday, Sturgeon said she was left frustrated by May’s refusal to make concessions on extra devolved powers to Scotland once Britain leaves the European Union.

Sturgeon insists that a second referendum is needed because Brexit – particularly May’s plan to withdraw from the EU single market – will alter Scotland’s relationships with Britain and Europe against its will.

May has argued that Scotland had already made its decision in the first referendum, when 55 per cent voted against independence.

The SNP runs a minority government with 63 of the 129 seats in parliament. But the referendum has the backing of the Scottish Green Party, which holds six seats, meaning it should pass.

May plans to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which allows a nation to leave the EU after up to two years of negotiations, on Wednesday.

More than 60 per cent of voters in Scotland opted to stay in the EU in the Brexit referendum, while 52 per cent voted for Brexit across Britain and Northern Ireland.