Uncertainty remains over how May and Sturgeon can break the referendum impasse
New polling suggests that the people of Scotland believe that the Scottish Parliament, not Westminster, should have the right to decide if a second independence referendum is held.
According to the data, collected by Survation for the SNP, 53 per cent of those questioned believe it should be for Holyrood to decide if there should be a second vote, compared to 34 per cent who said Westminster.
When those who did not have an opinion were excluded, 61 per cent preferred the Scottish Parliament to have the ultimate say, with 39 per cent saying Westminster.
In terms of timing, 50 per cent said that Holyrood should have the right to determine when a second vote takes place, with 39 per cent saying it should be Westminster’s responsibility. Removing the 11 per cent who did not know, it found that 56 per cent backed MSPs having the ultimate say in when a second referendum is held, compared to 44 per cent saying Westminster.
Those questioned were also asked if they felt that Westminster should have the right to block plans to hold a second referendum as agreed by Holyrood. 54 per cent said they did not, with 39 per cent saying they felt Westminster should have a veto.
Removing the seven of don’t knows saw 58 per cent of respondents saying that Westminster should not be able to block the will of the Scottish Parliament and 42 per cent saying it should.
It comes as Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has formally written to the Prime Minister seeking the powers needed to hold an independence referendum following a vote to agree to the move in the Scottish Parliament earlier this week.
In the letter published on the Scottish Government’s website she begins by wishing the Prime Minister well in negotiating Brexit, declaring that ‘a good deal for the UK is clearly in Scotland’s interests whatever constitutional future we choose’.
However, she went on to describe her ‘frustration’ that ahead of triggering Article 50, the UK Government had ‘failed to involve the devolved administrations in any meaningful way’, asserting that ‘the voices of the devolved administrations were largely ignored and all attempts at compromise rejected, in most cases with no prior consultation’.
With the UK heading for the exit door of both the EU and the Single Market, against the wishes of the people of Scotland, Sturgeon tells the Prime Minister that ‘the people of Scotland must have the right to choose our own future — in short, to exercise our right of self-determination.’
Ending the letter she expresses hope that there can be ‘constructive discussion between our governments’, but warns that ‘if that is not yet possible, I will set out to the Scottish Parliament the steps I intend to take to ensure that progress is made towards a referendum.’
Scotsman political editor Tom Peterkin questions what the next steps might look like given the apparent impasse now reached between the Prime Minister and First Minister.
“Among the possibilities being mulled over around Holyrood is the prospect of Ms Sturgeon trying to escape from her cul de sac by calling a snap Scottish election. An election would be an effective test of how strongly the electorate supports her proposal for another referendum. If the result went the right way for Ms Sturgeon, it would make the UK government sit up and take notice.”
He suggests that ‘another gambit could be for the SNP’s 54 MPs to resign from Westminster.’
“The historical precedent for this kind of mass resignation can be found in another relatively recent constitutional battle.
“In 1985, 15 unionist MPs of the Ulster Unionists, Democratic Unionist Party and the Ulster Populist Unionist Party resigned in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
“The subsequent by-elections early the following year saw just one unionist candidate stand in each seat in an attempt to garner as much of the unionist vote as possible. Fourteen unionists were returned with hefty majorities, but the moderate nationalist SDLP managed to take one seat.”
A third option would be for the SNP to use the 2020 General Election and 2021 Scottish Parliamentary Election has a referendum on independence.
Among the other options, Peterkin suggests, is holding a referendum without the consent of Westminster, or continuing to cajole the UK Government into agreeing to grant the powers to hold a referendum, or for the SNP ‘to vow to carry on with the Holyrood legislation for a second referendum in an attempt to rally the troops’.
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot ForwardSign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.