Sturgeon warns of new Scots independence vote after 'Brexit'

2nd June 2015, Comments 0 comments

British would face a "clamour" for a new Scottish independence referendum if it votes to leave the EU, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned Tuesday.

In a speech in Brussels, Sturgeon insisted European Union nations would not meet all of Prime Minister David Cameron's reform demands just to keep Britain in the 28-nation club.

"It would provoke a strong backlash amongst many voters in Scotland" if Britain voted to leave the EU in the in-out membership referendum that Cameron has promised by 2017, Sturgeon told the European Policy Centre think-tank.

"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."

Scotland voted against independence in a referendum in September 2014. But Sturgeon's separatist Scottish National Party has made a comeback by taking almost every parliamentary seat in Scotland in Britain's general election in May.

Sturgeon said there should be a "double majority" system in case of a British vote to leave the EU, under which each of the United Kingdom's four nations -- England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland -- would separately have to approve their exit.

Following his re-election last month, Cameron has toured European capitals to push for EU reforms which he says will require changes to the EU's treaties, before holding a referendum by the end of 2017.

The reforms include stricter requirements for EU migrants in claiming British social welfare benefits, and for London to be able to opt out of an EU commitment to "ever closer union".

Sturgeon said "sensible" reforms stood a real chance of acceptance, adding: "We don't believe that reforms will require treaty change."

But she urged Cameron's Conservative government to "avoid dealing with the hard edges of red lines" in its negotiations with its European partners.

"I don't think they will do whatever they will, regardless of the consequences, to keep the UK in," Sturgeon said.

"Which is part of the reason I think David Cameron has set off down a road that he can't control."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week she would work with Cameron to keep Britain in the EU and said that treaty change was not a "total impossibility".

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© 2015 AFP

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