Scottish Nationalists Seek New Independence Referendum
Scotland’s first minister took a step closer Monday to breaking up the United Kingdom by announcing she intends to begin the legal process of holding a new independence referendum for Scots.
At a news conference in Edinburgh, Nicola Sturgeon said it is the "right thing” to give Scots an opportunity to express their opinion following Brexit, last year’s vote by Britain to leave the European Union. In her speech, Sturgeon, whose Scottish National Party is the largest party north of the English border, said she wasn't prepared to “do nothing” while Brexit threatened Scotland’s economy and its links with Europe.
Coming in the wake of last week’s electoral surge by Sinn Fein nationalists in Northern Ireland assembly elections, Sturgeon’s announcement, although not a surprise, adds to the ramifications of the Brexit vote, which Britain’s Conservative government is struggling to contain.
Scotland’s first minister, who heads a minority government, said she wants the vote to take place between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, arguing the British parliament in Westminster had become more assertive since the Brexit vote. She said Britain’s Conservative prime minister, Theresa May, had failed to consult Scotland before deciding on a hard break with the EU, which will see Britain not only end its political membership in the European bloc but will also see it exit Europe’s single market with major economic consequences.
In last year’s Brexit vote, Scots voted by a 62-38 percent margin to remain in the EU. After the vote, Sturgeon said Brexit constituted a “significant and a material change of the circumstances,” thereby justifying a second independence referendum. Scotland elected to remain a part of the United Kingdom in a September 2014 referendum, which was then billed by Sturgeon as a “once in a lifetime vote.”
Sturgeon will seek the authority for the independence referendum next week from Scotland’s parliament, but, the final say has to come from the Westminster parliament.
Turkey Suspends High-Level Ties With The Netherlands
Turkey said Monday it is suspending high-level ties with The Netherlands as part of a series of sanctions protesting moves by Dutch authorities to bar Turkish ministers from holding rallies in support of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The two countries have been at odds for days after Turkey's foreign minister and home minister were prevented from attending events meant to boost support for an upcoming referendum that would give Erdogan wider power.
Monday's sanctions include banning the Dutch ambassador, who is currently out of the country, from returning to Turkey and suspending diplomatic flights. The range of sanctions did not appear to include economic measures or travel restrictions for ordinary citizens.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters the measures would remain in place until The Netherlands takes steps to "redress" its actions. Turkish officials also said the government should reevaluate its cooperation with the European Union on preventing the flow of migrants across land.
Erdogan has drawn condemnation for accusing The Netherlands of acting like Nazis in banning his ministers from holding rallies.
On Monday, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn called on Turkey to "refrain from excessive statements and actions that risk further exacerbating the situation."
The two EU officials said, "It is essential to avoid further escalation and find ways to calm down the situation."
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged Turkey and its NATO allies to "show mutual respect, to be calm and have a measured approach to contribute to de-escalate the tensions."
After Erdogan's Nazi comparison, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Dutch government has her "full support and solidarity." German forces bombed and occupied the Netherlands during World War II.