Scotland will likely seek independence for a second time this decade after the historic vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Friday.
Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party was elected on a platform that vowed, in part, to revisit the independence issue — last decided in a failed 2014 referendum — should the country be “taken out of the EU against our will,” Sturgeon said.
“Scotland does now face that prospect,” Sturgeon said. “It is a significant and material change in circumstances, and it is therefore a statement of the obvious that the option of a second referendum must be on the table, and it is on the table.”
Scotland is one of four countries that make up the United Kingdom. England, Wales and Northern Ireland are the others. Scottish voters overwhelmingly backed remaining in the EU, 62% in favor of staying to 38% who want to leave.
Sturgeon said her government would begin preparing legislation for a new referendum that could be held before the UK formally leaves the EU — two years from when the government formally notifies the bloc of its intent to drop out.
She said she felt it unlikely that UK leaders would try to block the effort, saying it is “highly likely” that a new independence referendum will be held.
In the 2014 vote, 55% of Scottish voters cast ballots in favor of remaining in the United Kingdom, but Sturgeon said Friday that many of those who voted against independence then are reassessing their positions in light of Thursday’s decision.