Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland “undoubtedly” would have backed leaving the United Kingdom in 2014 had voters known the country would be taken out of the European Union less than two years later.
The First Minister said her government had a mandate to pursue another referendum on independence in the wake of last year’s Holyrood elections as she prepared to launch an initial paper on the case for self-determination.
Scotland voted to remain part of the UK in the poll seven years ago by a margin of 55% to 45%, but overwhelming supported staying part of the EU in the Brexit ballot.
The FM will argue that independence could create a “new Scotland that is wealthier, fairer and more resilient” in the first of the “Building a New Scotland” series to be published on Tuesday.
She said planning was underway to explore the legal framework required for a new vote to take place so that it could be delivered via a “lawful process”.
In an exclusive interview with STV’s Scotland Tonight, she added that the UK government should “respect democracy” by not blocking any vote.
“There have been many changes since the referendum in 2014. In many ways the world is a different place. The UK is certainly a very different place,” she told the programme.
“In fact, I think if we could turn the clock back and people in 2014 could have foreseen the path that the UK would have taken out of the European Union, Boris Johnson as Prime Minister; Scotland undoubtedly would have voted yes back then.
“My government was elected with a mandate to deliver an independence referendum. We intend to honor that mandate. The other principle is the rule of law. We must make sure this is a lawful process.”
The first edition of the series will explore how the country would rank alongside its European neighbours should a referendum on the issue pass.
Further papers concentrating on different policy areas are expected to be published over the coming months.
Sturgeon previously said she hopes a referendum can take place “by the end of 2023,” however she added further information on that timescale would become available in “weeks to come”.
“Tomorrow’s paper will be very much a scene setter comparing the UK and Scotland’s economic social performance with that of a range of competitor countries across Europe,” she said.
“If we had a UK government that had any respect for democracy, we would undertake the same processes in 2014.
“In the absence of that, the competence of the Scottish Parliament to legislate is contested. I concede that therefore we need to navigate a way that can deliver a lawful process. That work is underway.”
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