The woman behind calls for Scexit

The woman behind calls for Scexit
The woman behind calls for Scexit

Nicola Sturgeon is the outspoken First Minister of Scotland who has been campaigning for a voice for Scotland in the post-Brexit scenario. Her call for a second referendum on Scotland's independence from the United Kingdom has raised the spectre of a new kind of exit - Scotland's exit from the UK (Scexit). Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon is the first woman to become leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and First Minister of Scotland, a post created in 1999 when the Scottish Parliament was reconvened following a referendum in support of devolution from the UK in 1997. Born in Irvine, North Ayrshire, in 1970 and educated at Greenwood Academy, she studied law at the University of Glasgow. Before entering the Scottish Parliament as a regional Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Glasgow in 1999, she worked as a solicitor in the Drumchapel Law and Money Advice Centre in Glasgow. She is currently MSP for Glasgow Southside having been, before boundary changes, MSP for Govan between 2007 and 2011. In government, she served as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing between May 2007 and September 2012 and then Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities with responsibility for government strategy and the constitution until November 2014. Throughout this period she also served as Deputy First Minister of Scotland. She became SNP Leader in November 2014 and was sworn in as First Minister later that month. In recent months, Sturgeon has been at the forefront of the Brexit debate - demanding a strong voice for Scotland, which voted to remain within the European Union (EU) in the June 2016 referendum in stark contrast to the rest of the UK. Therefore, being forced to exit the economic bloc against its people's wishes has led to her seeking the Scottish Parliament's backing to demand her own referendum on Scotland's views on remaining within the United Kingdom. If it gets the go-ahead, this will be the second such independence referendum since 2014 - when the country voted to remain a part of the UK. She said: “I believe in the independence of nations - Scotland included. But I believe just as strongly in the interdependence of nations - the need for countries to work together to tackle challenges and seize opportunities that few can do alone. “That is why an independent Scotland would always seek to work closely with others, across the British Isles and beyond. “Brexit - especially the hard Brexit shaped by May's inability to shake off the agenda of the Ukip-tinged right wing of her own party - threatens to be an act of self-harm on a scale barely understood. In Scotland alone, Brexit could cost the economy more than £11bn a year by 2030, and is predicted to lead to 80,000 job losses over the next decade. Those effects can be multiplied significantly for the UK as a whole.” Earlier in March, Sturgeon won the Scottish Parliament's backing to hold an independence referendum, 69 votes to 59. But British Prime Minister Theresa May has already said she will block such a referendum until after the Brexit process is complete. May, who had met Sturgeon for talks in Glasgow just before formally triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29 to set the two-year clock ticking on Brexit negotiations, has repeatedly insisted that "now is not the time", and that all efforts should be on securing the best deal for the whole of the UK after she formally triggers Article 50 on Wednesday. "I hope the UK government will respect the will of this Parliament. If it does so, I will enter discussion in good faith and with a willingness to compromise,” Sturgeon said, warning the Westminster Parliament in London to accept the Scottish Parliament's wishes. "However, if it chooses not to do so I will return to the parliament following the Easter recess to set out the steps that the Scottish government will take to progress the will of Parliament," she warned. Sturgeon's motion calls for a referendum between later next year and early 2019, but has indicated she would be willing to negotiate the timing. She is confident of winning an independence referendum this time around because of the implications of Brexit for the country and to resist being forcibly taken out of the EU single market. "I have been genuine and sincere about trying to reach a compromise agreement with the UK government. We have not met with a Government and a Prime Minister who is willing to meet us half way on that... they have moved away from compromise with language that has appeared to become harder and harder," said Sturgeon. She claims the economic benefits of staying in the UK in a post-Brexit landscape are "significantly more challenging" than they were last time the independence vote was held in 2014. Now that Britain has set itself on the path of an exit from the 28-nation economic bloc, the collision course with Scotland also seems to have been drawn up. “As Britain leaves the European Union, and we forge a new role for ourselves in the world, the strength and stability of our Union will become even more important," said the British PM on her last visit to Scotland. But the strength of the Union is undoubtedly under considerable strain, with Sturgeon holding many of the cards in the game.

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