Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon caught most people on the hop this morning by her announcement that a new Scottish referendum on independence is being sought. It was her timing more than the announcement itself that caused surprise, as most thought it would come at the Scottish National Party’s spring conference at the end of the week. She said that she wanted the referendum to be held between the autumn of 2018 and the spring of 2019. This implied that she wanted a vote for independence to be taken into account in the final Brexit settlement between the UK and the European Union.
Although the referendum will have to be agreed by the Scottish Parliament first, it will be the UK Parliament at Westminster who would have to legislate for a legal poll. The interesting question will now be what would happen if the UK government blocked a Scottish demand for a referendum on independence. At this stage it seems more likely that British Prime Minister, Theresa May, will allow a second referendum, but only if it takes place after Brexit.