As recently as two weeks ago, a repeat Scottish independent referendum seemed improbable.
As Reuters reported on February 10, according to a senior British minister, Britain saw no need for a second Scottish independence referendum and the devolved Scottish government should focus on improving the economy and tacking domestic issues rather than "flirting with secession."
Meanwhile, an opinion poll published in early February showed support for Scottish independence rose after PM Theresa May proposed making a clean break with the European Union, stoking speculation that Scotland could demand another secession vote. Such a move would present yet another major challenge for the ruling Conservative party as a demand for a second independence referendum from Scotland's devolved government would throw the United Kingdom into a constitutional crisis just as PM May seeks to negotiate the terms of the Brexit divorce with the EU's 27 other members.
May had repeatedly said she does not believe there is any need for a second independence vote in Scotland as 55.3% of Scots voted to stay in a 2014 referendum. In that vote, 44.7% of Scots voted for independence.
When asked whether she would allow a second referendum, May told reporters: "We had the independence referendum in 2014." "The Scottish people determined at that time that they wanted Scotland to remain a part of the United Kingdom. The SNP at the time said it was a ‘once in a generation vote’," May said.
But the pro-EU Scottish National Party (SNP), whose ultimate aim is independence for Scotland, said May's drive for what they call a "hard Brexit" against the will of most Scots had put independence back on the agenda.
It now appears that the SNP has gotten its wishes, and despite her stern denials, Theresa May’s team is preparing for Scotland to potentially call independence referendum in March to coincide with triggering of Article 50, the Times of London reported late on Sunday, citing unidentified senior government sources. According to the UK publication, May could agree to new Scottish vote, but on condition it’s held after U.K. leaves EU.
From the Sunday Times:
Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May are heading for a showdown over who has the right to call another independence referendum and when it should be held.
As the prime minister prepares to head north to speak at the Scottish Conservative conference this week, it has emerged that the SNP government raised the issue of a second referendum at a private meeting with her administration on Wednesday.
The first minister looks set to call a vote by the Scottish parliament — following next month’s SNP conference and triggering of article 50 — to strengthen her mandate to stage a second referendum. At her party conference, Sturgeon is expected to call for Holyrood to have the right to call a referendum.
While there has been no official statement from UK officials in this late hour on Sunday, the prospect of even more politcal chaos, not to mention the sudden possibility of Scotland declaring independence has sent cable into a tailspin, with sterling plunging 70 pips in thin trade, sliding below 1.24 on the news.