Scottish nationalists have vowed to hold an independence vote after pro-independence parties won a majority in Scotland’s parliament on Saturday.
The win would pave the way to a legal and constitutional battle with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the future of the United Kingdom.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised to push for a second independence referendum once the coronavirus pandemic was over.
She also noted that it would be outrageous if Johnson were to try to ignore what she referred to as the democratic will of the people.
“There is simply no democratic justification whatsoever for Boris Johnson, or indeed for anyone else, seeking to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our own future,” Sturgeon said.
“It is the will of the country,” she added after her Scottish National Party (SNP) was returned for a fourth consecutive term in office.
Johnson said Friday it would be “irresponsible and reckless” to hold a second referendum.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, he said, “I think that there’s no case now for such a thing. I don’t think it’s what the times call for at all.”
The prime minister has repeatedly made clear he would refuse to give approval for any referendum, arguing Scots had backed staying in the UK in a “once in a generation” poll in 2014.
Now, with the election outcome, there will be a bitter clash between the Scottish government in Edinburgh and Johnson’s UK-wide administration in London.
While the nationalists insist they have democratic authority on their side, the British government says the law is with them.
Pro-independence sentiment in Scotland was strengthened by the Brexit referendum, which a majority of Scots voted against.
Many in Scotland want to rejoin the European Union and see an independence referendum as a step which will help them achieve their goal.
Election staff members count votes for the Scottish Parliamentary election at a counting centre in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, May 8, 2021. (Reuters photo)
Prior to Saturday’s results, the SNP had hoped to win an outright majority which would have fortified their call for a secession vote, however, they fell one seat short of a majority in the country’s Parliament.
The results, although impressive, deprived the SNP of a symbolic victory in the election, something that will, in turn, stiffen Johnson’s resolve to deny Scottish voters the chance to hold a second referendum.