January 14, 2020

U.K. Standoff Over Scottish Independence Rumbles On With Brexit
(Bloomberg) -- As the U.K. prepares to put more than three years of uncertainty behind it when it leaves the European Union this month, a standoff over the country’s constitutional future only looks more intractable.On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon’s demand to hold another independence referendum in the wake of Brexit. Sturgeon responded by saying that his position was “not politically sustainable” and that her government in Edinburgh would continue to agitate for a vote.Scotland wants to remain in the EU and Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party won 48 out of 59 districts in Scotland at last month’s election, a result she said reinforced her mandate to give Scots the chance to choose their own path. In a letter Johnson refused to transfer the power to hold the vote, saying that Scotland already opted to stay in the U.K. in a 2014 referendum that all parties had agreed was a “once in a generation” event.“The people of Scotland will get the right to decide our own future in an independence referendum,” Sturgeon said. “The Westminster union cannot be sustained without consent. Democracy will prevail. The only question is how long it will take the Tories and the rest of the Westminster establishment to accept that inevitability.”The tension between Scotland and England, which came together to form Great Britain in 1707, is set to rumble on as Johnson seeks a quick trade deal with the EU and Sturgeon heads toward a Scottish Parliamentary election next year determined to put the issue of full autonomy back to the people.The problem for Johnson is that the question over Scotland isn’t going to go away anytime soon, though his emphatic election victory in December means he can afford to play the long game. For Sturgeon, the challenge is to maintain pressure on the U.K. government in London after ruling out anything other than a legal, internationally recognized referendum.To contact the reporter on this story: Rodney Jefferson in Edinburgh at r.jefferson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Alex MoralesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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