I believe the people of Scotland deserve a choice over our future.
In the EU referendum there was a 24-point margin in Scotland for Remain. Despite this, the Scottish Government put forward compromise proposals that would have reluctantly meant leaving the EU if we could at least stay in the Single Market.
Unfortunately the UK Government decided to reject this compromise and is insisting on a course of action that it said before the EU referendum, would make us “permanently poorer”.
The Scottish Parliament has now voted and agreed that an independence referendum should be held – not now but when the terms of Brexit are clear and while there is still time to change course. That means a referendum could be held between October 2018 and March 2019, when the UK will be leaving the EU or shortly after.
The First Minister has been clear that Scotland’s choice must be informed and, as such, we will be frank about the opportunities and challenges of independence. We have been clear that we’ll set out a plan for an independent Scotland well in advance of a referendum so that people will have an informed choice between Brexit and becoming an independent country.
I hope the UK Government will respect the wishes of the Scottish Parliament. The First Minister has said she will return to Parliament after Easter to set out the steps the Scottish Government will take to progress the will of Parliament.
The next two years are hugely important. They’ll determine what kind of country Scotland will be – so I believe it is important that the people of Scotland should have the final choice on our future, once the terms of Brexit are clear.