Scotland rejects triggering Brexit in non-binding vote

In a symbolic move, Scottish politicians vote by 90 to 34 against a bill that would trigger Britain’s exit from the EU.

Scotland''s First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party speaks at the party''s annual conference in Glasgow
Sturgeon has demanded the interests of Scotland be taken into account during Brexit negotiations [Russell Cheyne/Reuters]

Scotland’s devolved parliament has overwhelmingly rejected Britain’s march towards a European Union exit, in a non-binding vote that could potentially be used as groundwork for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Tuesday’s symbolic motion, which was proposed by the Scottish government led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, was backed by 90 votes to 34.

It argued that the triggering of Article 50, which starts the two-year Brexit process, should be rejected because the UK government has left too many questions unanswered.

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It said the Westminster parliament is not guaranteed a say in any new trade relationship once Britain has left the EU and the decision to proceed “does not respect the majority vote to remain part of the EU that was returned in every council area in Scotland”.

Scotland was told it would be an “equal partner” in the British union if it rejected independence, which it did by 55 percent in a 2014 referendum.

In June 2016, Scotland voted to remain in the EU by 62 percent, but it was outvoted by England which has a vastly larger population.

Brexit succeeded overall with 52 percent of the vote.

‘Key test’

Sturgeon has repeatedly demanded that the interests of Scottish people be taken into account during upcoming Brexit negotiations and says Scotland must have a choice on holding a new independence referendum if that is not the case.

“(This vote) is a key test of whether Scotland’s voice is being listened to and whether our wishes can be accommodated within the UK process,” Sturgeon said before the vote.

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The Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, Mike Russell, said the Scottish government will never allow Scotland to be humiliated and its democratic choice rejected.

“We will never, ever, turn our back on Europe and the world,” he said.

Russell said there was still time for London to avert another independence bid by Scotland if it accepted a “compromise” – a differentiated solution that would keep Scotland in the European single market even as the rest of Britain leaves.

Britain’s highest court ruled last month that the launch of Brexit talks must be approved by the British parliament, but Prime Minister Theresa May has no legal obligation to consult the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Amendments to May’s European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill currently making its way through the House of Commons, which would have given the regional governments a voice in the Brexit process, were rejected on Monday during a British parliamentary debate in London.

Analysts say the Scottish parliament vote sends a clear signal to London that the Brexit process is proceeding without their support, but the UK government has no compulsion to listen.

“The UK government will continue our engagement with the Scottish government and with people and groups across Scotland, as we prepare to leave the EU, to secure the best deal for Scotland and the UK,” a British government spokesman said.

Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party has 63 out of seats in the 129-seat Scottish parliament, just short of the 65 seat majority

Source: News Agencies