Nicola Sturgeon launches new drive for Scottish independence referendum

A new opinion poll shows support for it is divided

nicola sturgeon

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrives at the Stirling event, where she launched a fresh bid to convince Scots to back independence | Image: PA Images

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has signalled her determination to push again for an independent Scotland in the wake of the UK's vote to leave the EU.

In a speech in Stirling - where William Wallace won a victory against the English that was featured in the film 'Braveheart' - the SNP leader outlined plans for a "listening exercise" to reignite the debate on independence.

It comes after Scotland voted largely in favour of remaining in the EU, while much of England and Wales voted to leave.

Ms Sturgeon underlined her regret that the UK had voted to break away from the trading bloc but said that it was essential that it remains in the free market.

She went on to accuse the Conservatives of making "high handed, arrogant comments...that Scotland should know her place, that Westminster is boss, we'll simply have to like it or lump it, whatever is decided".

She added: "I know that we are right to keep a third option on the table and that is the option of considering again in these very different circumstances if Scotland should become an independent country."

The last referendum in September 2014 resulted in Scots voting by 55% to 45% in favour of remaining in the United Kingdom.

But it comes as a new poll shows 50% of Scottish people are actually opposed to a second referendum.

Source: YouGov

The survey from YouGov finds 37% of Scots back a second independence referendum and 50% are against.

Should a second vote be held, the results would be almost identical to last time - with 54% of Scots voting against independence and 46% in favour.

But Ms Sturgeon said the Brexit vote and the decision of Labour to "press the self-destruct button" had created a "double whammy" that made it necessary to look again at independence.

She said: "There can be no doubt that Brexit raises afresh the issue of independence...and second, important that the issue of EU membership is, the case for independence is about much more than that.

"Do we control our own destiny or will we always be at the mercy of decisions taken elsewhere?

"That is...likely to become more acute because of the second seismic event to take place this summer - the decision of the Labour party to press the self-destruct button.

"But there is some alternative to simply hoping for the best from Westminster. That is why... I believe it is right that our party does lead a new conversation on independence."

"Narrow nationalist agenda"

She said the Scottish government would be launching a website to allow people to take part in that "listening exercise", with SNP members helping to gather the views of at least two million people.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said in response: "Nicola Sturgeon has shown today that she is prepared to ignore the priorities of the people of Scotland in pursuit of her own narrow nationalist agenda.

"If she was really listening, she would know that most of us don't want to go back to another divisive referendum debate - we want Scotland to move on.

"As leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party, I will oppose any attempt by the SNP to hold another referendum. It is utterly unjustified and unnecessary.

Source: YouGov

The same YouGov survey also sees Ms Davidson named the most popular party leader there, overtaking Ms Sturgeon for the first time.

Overall, 46% of Scots think that Ms Davidson is doing well, compared to 25% who think she is doing badly.

The survey also looks at the Scottish Parliament, which gives some better news for Ms Sturgeon's SNP.

At 52%, the party has seen a five point improvement on the 2016 Holyrood elections.

The Conservatives are in second place at 21% - five points ahead of the UK Labour Party.

While Labour itself has suffered a seven point decline on its vote share in the elections, polling at 16%.

The Conservatives are in second place at 21% - five points ahead of the UK Labour Party.

While Labour itself has suffered a seven point decline on its vote share, polling at 16%.

Additional reporting: IRN