Writing in The Times newspaper, Ms Sturgeon stated that she had chosen to hold off exercising her mandate straightaway, in order to explore other avenues to protect Scotland’s place in Europe.
“As well as justification for a referendum, there is also a cast-iron mandate,” she wrote. “Which brings me to the issue of good faith. “The day after the EU referendum, I chose not to immediately exercise that mandate. Instead I published a compromise position, Scotland’s place in Europe, which proposed a way for Scotland to remain in the single market.”
She continued: “Instead of meeting us halfway, however, the UK government’s approach has been ‘its way or no way’. If an independence referendum does arise, it will not be down to bad faith on the part of the Scottish government, but to sheer intransigence on the part of the UK government. “It’s not too late for the UK government to change course, but time is running out.”
Downing Street has since speculated that Ms Sturgeon is preparing to call a second independence referendum, as Theresa May is on course to trigger Article 50 before her self-imposed before March deadline.
On this subject, a spokesperson for the Scottish government told The Independent: “The power to hold a referendum – for which there is a cast iron democratic mandate – should lie with the Scottish Parliament. But the key focus of our discussions with the UK Government has been on our detailed proposals to keep Scotland in Europe by retaining our place in the single market, which is around eight times bigger than the UK’s alone. “Keeping our place in the single market is vital to avoid the cliff edge of a hard Brexit which would be catastrophic for Scottish jobs and livelihoods, so we will pursue all options to secure that status, including independence, if it is the best or only way to do so.”
In response to the Ms Sturgeon’s remarks, both Scottish Labour and the Conservatives cited that the vast majority of people in Scotland don’t want a second referendum. Scottish Tory whip, John Lamont said: “People are growing increasingly tired of the First Minister’s constant threats over a second referendum. “Nicola Sturgeon would be better served concentrating on the day job, and focusing on getting the right deal for Scotland and the whole United Kingdom. “She should act as the First Minister of Scotland, not as a rabble-rouser for a referendum most people don’t want.”
Spokesperson for Scottish Labour, Ian Murray said: “This latest threat from Nicola Sturgeon is irresponsible economic vandalism. “Our economy is already in trouble following the Tories’ reckless Brexit gamble, and the very last thing we need is more uncertainty for employers, workers and markets.
“In 2014, more than two million Scots voted to reject separation and the polls are quite clear that Scots do not want another referendum. The SNP has no mandate for a divisive second independence referendum.”
It’s hard to tell what will happen in the moments following the trigger of Article 50. Will Scotland eventually opt for another referendum? Or this is a bit of scaremongering on Sturgeon’s part in an attempt to change the PM’s stance on Brexit? Only time will tell.
However, what is apparent, like the US, the UK has become divided since the EU referendum. This division will need to be healed in earnest, to give Britain a fighting chance to stand on its own two feet post Brexit. There are uncertain times ahead.