Analysis: Risks for Sturgeon over repeat referendum

Should Scottish people living elsewhere be allowed to vote in the Scottish referendum?
Should Scottish people living elsewhere be allowed to vote in the Scottish referendum?
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NICOLA Sturgeon’s decision to seek another referendum on Scottish independence was as predictable as the howls of derision that met her declaration.

From the moment Scotland voted to Remain while England and Wales chose Leave, it was always highly likely the SNP would use Brexit as a pretext to revisit the issue that was supposed to have been settled for a generation.

There will be much debate over whether Westminster should agree to her demand but if the Scottish Government went ahead and organised a credible vote the result would be impossible for London to ignore.

The only surprise is that Scotland’s First Minister has set out firm plans now rather than waiting until the Brexit process has progressed further.

Her critics will suggest the move is motivated by a desire to distract attention from the SNP’s failings at Holyrood.

But demanding a referendum now is not a low-risk option for the SNP.

Ms Sturgeon hopes the prospect of Brexit will make an independent Scotland seeking to stary in the EU the ‘safe’ choice.

But if Theresa May defies her critics and manages to negotiate a comprehensive agreement with Brussels - or at least gives votees confidence she is on track to deliver one - the emphasis will again be on the SNP to address key questions on the Scottish economy, currency and EU membership.

Those who rejected independence in 2014 may also be additionally motivated to go to the polls to express their anger at being asked the same question again.

And if independence is rejected twice in five years that really will take the issue off the table for a generation and deal a crushing blow to the SNP.