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24 Crucial Hours for UK | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks in the chamber on the second day of the ‘Scotland’s Choice’ debate on a motion to seek the authority to hold an indpendence referendum, at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, on March 28, 2017.
The vote in Scotland’s parliament on supporting First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a new independence referendum resumed Tuesday, aftering it was delayed in a gesture of respect following the March 22 attack on the British parliament. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Andy Buchanan (Photo credit should read ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Edinburgh – Scottish parliament, dominated by the Scottish National Party (SNP), was supposed to vote on the independence referendum last week but the vote has been postponed because of the terrorist attack outside the UK Parliament in London.

Thus, both the Scottish vote and signing of Brexit coincided as UK began its official process of exiting EU according to the timeline set by the Prime Minister Theresa May.

Hadn’t it been for the 53 percent of British votes with Brexit and 62 percent of Scottish against, Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon wouldn’t had to invoke the request for a new referendum three years after the previous one which was rejected with 55 percent wanting to stay within the UK.

“When that change is imposed on us, we should have the right to choose,” Sturgeon told Scottish lawmakers at the start of Tuesday’s debate. “None of us should be in any doubt what’s at stake. The people of Scotland must also have their say.”

“My argument is simply this: when the nature of the change which is made inevitable by Brexit becomes clear, that change should not be imposed upon us, we should have the right to decide the nature of that change,” she added.

She stressed that it is within the people’s right to choose between Brexit or becoming an independent country to chart their own course and create a true partnership of equals across these islands.

Sturgeon won the key Holyrood vote on her plans for a second independence referendum, triggering accusations from UK ministers that her demands are premature.

She won by a 10-vote majority after the Scottish Greens backed her proposals to formally request from the UK government the powers to stage a fresh independence vote at around the time Britain leaves the EU, in spring 2019.

The PM however said she will request that her country remains in the EU Market.

May met Sturgeon on a visit to Scotland on Monday and has repeatedly rebuffed the plan for another Scottish referendum.

May has repeatedly said that “now is not the time” for an independence referendum, but has not ruled out one being held after the Brexit process is complete.

British PM said leaving the European Union would be an opportunity to strengthen the ties between the nations of the UK.

Sturgeon described the talks as cordial but said she was “frustrated by a process that appears not to be listening”.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier wants to get the issue settled quickly so both sides can reach the outlines of a Brexit agreement within 18 months. He warned that the EU and the UK will face “severe consequences” if Britain leaves without a deal.

He said that he wants to “immediately address” a series of issues including the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living abroad.

Barnier said: “We must protect the rights of the 4.5 million citizens who have found themselves faced with an uncertain future in the place they call home.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also tackled the issue asking the EU not try to “instill fear” by threatening to “punish” the UK for Brexit with a bad deal.

He said: “Now is the time to be confident in the EU, and to act with confidence. There is no need, as some have suggested, for the EU to send a message, or to instill fear, by punishing the UK.”

He added that a bad Brexit deal that hurts London would hurt the EU too.

London mayor intensified his demand that Prime Minister Theresa May must respect the rights of EU migrants in the UK as she officially launches Brexit. He added that he was pleased that the Prime Minister has today recognized the importance of reassuring EU citizens living in Britain who are understandably extremely concerned about their future.

“Today, Theresa May has a huge opportunity to give them a cast-iron guarantee that they can stay here after Brexit as she triggers Article 50.This would start negotiations with a powerful symbol of goodwill and both sides should give this assurance today,” Khan stated.

Khan said that though he didn’t vote for Brexit, he is optimistic about London’s future.

The mayor stated that: “It’s going to be difficult but it’s possible. May and the Government need to recognize that London is the engine of our country, adding that he was “heartbroken” by Brexit and it would have a “profound” impact on London.

He did however admit that things won’t be the same again once Britain have left the EU, and expressed his willingness to do whatever it takes to minimize any damage and ensure the best possible Brexit outcome.