Sturgeon puts second independence referendum on hold

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(File, AP)
(File, AP)

London - Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday that she had changed her mind about seeking a second independence referendum, telling lawmakers that she was postponing plans to introduce legislation for a vote on whether Scotland should break away from the United Kingdom.

Sturgeon said in March that such a vote should be held between late 2018 and early 2019. She had argued that would give Scots an alternative to Brexit.

Reflected on issue

Scots chose to stay in the UK in a 2014 referendum. But the independence debate was reignited after last June's national EU referendum - while Britain as a whole voted last June to leave the European Union, in Scotland the vote was 62 to 38% to remain in the bloc.

Sturgeon said that she had reflected on the issue after the June 8 general election, which saw her Scottish National Party lose 21 of its 54 seats in the national Parliament.

She told the Scottish Parliament that her government "remains committed strongly to the principle of giving Scotland a choice at the end of this (Brexit) process".

But in the meantime, she said she would focus attention on seeking to influence Brexit negotiations "in a way that protects Scotland's interests".

Pulling together

Prime Minister Theresa May said Sturgeon should "completely take off the table the question of a second independence referendum in Scotland.

"I think that was the clear message from the general election and I think now is the time for the United Kingdom to be pulling together and not be driven apart," May said.

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