Pressure for another independence referendum may become “unstoppable” if the UK votes to leave the EU, Nicola Sturgeon claimed yesterday.
The first minister said the UK Government could stop the “groundswell of anger” by agreeing to a “double majority” where all four parts of the UK must vote in favour of leaving the EU before it can take place.
She used her first speech in Brussels to lay out the SNP’s approach to reforming Europe which included giving members states greater autonomy to implement regulations, such as the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and more local decision making on health and social policies.
Having first opposed David Cameron’s pledge for a referendum on EU membership, Ms Sturgeon now accepts it as inevitable.
She is positioning Scotland within the debate by giving her backing to the EU while agreeing its needs reform, which Ms Sturgeon believes can be done from within without a treaty change.
To that end she challenged the prime minister to offer the electorate a positive vision of the future.
“I previously stated my view that if Scotland were to be taken out of Europe despite voting as a nation to have remained, it would provoke a strong backlash amongst many ordinary voters,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“Quite what the result of that would be no-one can perceive but I’ve stated before that this could be one scenario producing the kind of material change in circumstances that would precipitate popular demand for a second independence referendum.
“Bluntly, I believe that the groundswell of anger amongst many ordinary people in Scotland under these circumstances could produce a clamour for another independence referendum that may well be unstoppable.
“Of course it is open to the UK Government to stop that happening, to guard against that scenario by agreeing to the double majority provision.”
Commenting on the first minister’s speech, Scottish Labour deputyKe\zleader Kezia Dugdale said there was an “overwhelmingly positive case” for the UK remaining in the EU.
“It’s encouraging that Nicola Sturgeon recognises the value of being part of a larger union,” she said.
“Instead of talking up the political consequences of a UK exit from the EU, those of us who support staying in the European Union should concentrate all our efforts on making the case for it.