First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon issues a statement on Brexit and independence in the main chamber at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, Wednesday April 24, 2019. Sturgeon says she wants to hold a new referendum on independence from the U.K. by 2021 if Britain leaves the European Union, though she acknowledges she lacks the power to make it happen on her own. Scots voted against independence by 55% to 45% in a 2014 referendum billed as a once-in-generation poll. (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

Scottish leader aims to hold new independence vote by 2021

April 24, 2019 - 9:28 am

LONDON (AP) — Scotland should hold a new referendum on independence from the U.K. by 2021 if Britain leaves the European Union, Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon said Wednesday, even as she acknowledged that she lacks the power to make that happen on her own.

Scots voted against independence 55% to 45% in a 2014 referendum billed as a once-in-generation poll.

In 2016, the U.K. as a whole voted to leave the EU, but people in Scotland voted strongly to remain.

Sturgeon, who leads the pro-independence Scottish National Party, argues that Brexit changes everything because Scotland should not be dragged out of the 28-nation EU against its will.

The first minister told the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh that if Britain leaves the EU "a choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered in the lifetime of this parliament" — before the next scheduled Scottish election in May 2021.

Such a referendum would need approval from the British government, which right now says the time is not right.

Sturgeon acknowledged the opposition from the current Conservative-led British government in London but said "I believe that position will prove to be unsustainable."

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