Defying PM Johnson, Scottish leader steps up battle for independence referendum

LONDON (Reuters) – Scotland’s nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon will consider “all reasonable options” if Prime Minister Boris Johnson tries to stop her from holding a referendum on Scottish independence, she said on Thursday.

Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks during a statement at Bute House in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain December 19, 2019. Neil Hanna/Pool via REUTERS

Sturgeon’s pro-independence, anti-Brexit Scottish National Party (SNP) won 48 of Scotland’s 59 parliamentary seats in last week’s UK-wide election, which she said showed overwhelming support for her agenda to hold such a referendum.

As things stand, a referendum cannot take place without UK government consent. Sturgeon, who heads Scotland’s semi-autonomous government, said she would write to Johnson on Thursday asking him to enter negotiations on transferring the power to hold a referendum from London to Edinburgh.

“The question is often posed to me: ‘what will you do if Boris Johnson says no?’ As I’ve said before, I will consider all reasonable options to secure Scotland’s right to self-determination,” she said in a speech.

Sturgeon refused to be drawn on exactly what those options could be, although she signalled that she did not envisage a Catalonia-style referendum, organised without consent or recognition by the national government.

“In line with our values, we acknowledge that a referendum must be legal and that it must be accepted as legitimate here in Scot


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