Published: 13/03/2017 16:35 - Updated: 13/03/2017 16:55

Inverness MP welcomes possibility of second independence referendum

Inverness MP Drew Hendry.
Inverness MP Drew Hendry.

OPINION in the Highlands has been split following an announcement by Nicola Sturgeon that she is seeking permission to hold a second vote on Scottish independence.

The First Minister has accused the UK government of trying to “puncture Scotland’s lifeboat” as she tries to secure the country’s place in the EU, despite Britain voting to leave last June.

The SNP leader wants a vote to be held between the autumn of 2018 and the spring of the following year, giving Scottish people a chance to choose between independence or a “hard Brexit”.

Ms Sturgeon said she would ask the Scottish Parliament to request a Section 30 order from Westminster next week.

The order is needed to allow a fresh, legally-binding referendum to be held but it's unclear if Prime Minister Theresa May will grant permission for this.

MPs and Lords are due to debate Brexit, which could lead to Article 50 being triggered tomorrow.

Since the Brexit vote in June, when Scotland voted 62 per cent to 38 per cent to remain in the EU, Ms Sturgeon has been trying to secure a place in the single market but said that had now been ruled out by Westminster.

News of a possible second referendum was welcomed by Drew Hendry, SNP MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.

“In the months since the EU vote, Theresa May’s government has been given every opportunity to work with the Scottish Government to find a compromise that would meet the needs of Scotland – instead there has been nothing, no response," he said.

“Still, even as she made her speech, the First Minister told UK Government ministers it is not too late for them to listen and act, although I do suspect even the most optimistic of people must see that as unlikely given the months of silence from the Prime Minister.

“Therefore it is absolutely right that Nicola Sturgeon, as the First Minister of Scotland, take steps to give people of Scotland the choice over their own future.”

In September 2014, Highland voted to stay in the UK by 52.92 per cent and in June last year 56 per cent voted to remain in the EU.

Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Edward Mountain said: “We had one referendum, there is absolutely no need for a second one.

“We should be getting on with solving the problems we have at the moment, not returning to a battle from 2014. I think it is irresponsible and if it comes to parliament next week I will be voting to get on with the day job.”

A spokesman from 10 Downing Street said: “Another referendum would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time.”

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