Scotland: Draft referendum bill published for consultation
The Scottish Government has launched a twelve-week consultation on the proposed Scottish Independence Referendum Bill.
Speaking today, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We will continue to work UK wide to seek to avert a hard Brexit and we will also bring forward proposals that seek to protect our place in the single market, even if the rest of the UK leaves.
“However, if we find that our interests cannot be properly or fully protected within a UK context then independence must be one of the options open to us and the Scottish people must have the right to consider it.
“Any decision on holding a referendum, including the timing of it, would be for the Scottish Parliament to take having considered all the options for Scotland’s future relationship with the EU and the associated impact of being forced to leave against our will.”
The consultation document states: “If the Scottish Government decides to formally introduce the Bill to Parliament, it would be expected that a section 30 order would be sought and agreed, as in 2014.”
Constitution Secretary Derek Mackay said: “It is important that a referendum on independence, like that in 2014, meets the gold standard in terms of fairness, transparency and propriety.
“The franchise will be the same as that for the Scottish Parliament. That will mean two important groups of people would have a voice denied to them in the recent referendum on EU membership: 16 and 17 year-olds and citizens of EU countries who have made Scotland their home.
“We are now publishing the bill for consultation so that it is ready for introduction should the Scottish Government decide that seeking the views of the Scottish people on independence is the best or only way to protect Scotland’s interests in the wake of the EU referendum. In stark contrast with the UK Government, we have a clear plan of action.”
The consultation is available from the Scottish Government website and will receive responses until 11 January 2017.