In a historic vote on Tuesday 28th March, the Scottish Parliament endorsed the Scottish Government’s plans to give the people of Scotland another choice about the nation’s future in the wake of Brexit. The Government motion called for a referendum to take place at a time when the terms of Brexit are known, around 18 months from the triggering of Article 50, but before it is too late to make a choice.
After an intense two debate, a majority of MSPs voted for the Government motion entitled ‘Scotland’s Choice’, which opened with the powerful statement that ‘the Parliament acknowledges the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs’. This reflects a long tradition of Scottish popular sovereignity from as early as the Declaration of Abroath in 1320, and, echoes in particular the opening lines of the 1989 Claim of Right for Scotland, which marked a crucial step in the path towards devolution.
Local MSP Ruth Maguire was amongst those who contributed to the historic debate on Scotland’s future, using her speech to set out how the people deserve another right to choose, as the United Kingdom that people voted for, and were promised, in 2014 no longer exists.
Ruth also stressed how important it was that politicians and parties honour their manifesto commitments, and highlighted that the manifesto upon which she as an MSP, and the SNP as the Government, were elected, explicitly reserved the right to hold another referendum if ‘there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.’
Speaking in the debate, Ruth said:
‘We have heard that the decision that was made in 2014 was meant to settle the question for a generation, but democracy does not stand still, nor does the world. The United Kingdom that that generation was promised and voted for no longer exists. The United Kingdom—and Scotland’s place within it—has fundamentally changed since 2014. The choice that faces us now is fundamentally different. The people of Scotland should not now be denied the right to make that choice.
Furthermore, the SNP was elected to Government on a manifesto that explicitly reserved the right to hold another referendum “if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.”
I believe that political parties should honour their manifesto commitments, and the SNP is a party that believes that we should honour our manifesto commitments. Our First Minister believes that our relationship with the Scottish people must be built on honouring our manifesto commitments.
That is why, with the endorsement of this Parliament, we will deliver on our manifesto commitment and give the people of Scotland another choice about their future in circumstances that are fundamentally different from those that prevailed in 2014.’
With the authority of the Scottish Parliament, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will now open talks with the UK Government to seek the legal powers to allow a referendum to take place.