What do the Scottish Government's Brexit plans mean for indyref2?
Scenario one – unlikely, but possible Theresa May agrees to the proposal to keep the whole of the UK in the single European market. This would mean the entire UK should stay in the single market by remaining “a party to the European Economic Area agreement” and staying in the customs union. The First Minister believes this so-called “soft-Brexit” deal is “entirely democratically justifiable”, and is consistent with the total UK vote to leave the bloc. Nicola Sturgeon has conceded it seems an “unlikely outcome”.
Impact on indyref2? Shelved for now Article continues after...
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Scenario two – very unlikely Scotland would get a separate deal to remain in the single market, through the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA) – even if the rest of the UK chose to leave.
Sturgeon insists this option does not prioritise membership of the single market over continued free trade across the UK, but would “safeguard both” and would not require a hard border.
Under this option, Scotland would be outside the customs union if the UK decides to leave it and would require powers over immigration to be devolved to Holyrood. Sturgeon also wants powers over fishing and farming to be repatriated from Brussels to Holyrood while areas such as employment law and powers to strike international agreements should be devolved.
Impact on indyref2? Shelved for now
Scenario three – more likely May does not agree to options one or two, and the First Minister presses ahead with plans to hold a second independence referendum.
The Scottish Government would first bring a bill before Holyrood, probably sometime before the end of this parliamentary year. While the SNP has not got a majority, support from the pro-independence Scottish Greens would allow the legislation to pass.
Once done, a Section 30 order, would be required from Westminster, allowing the referendum to be held. Nicola Sturgeon wants the vote to take place before the UK leaves the EU.
If Article 50 is triggered according to plan by the end of March 2017, the UK would have two years to leave the bloc with the exiting deadline of March 2019.
There has been increasing talk of the UK Government wanting “a transitional deal” to smooth the way in establishing its new relationship with the EU and the rest of the world, and as May has said to stop the country “falling off a cliff edge”.
It remains to be seen if EU leaders would agree, although the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier wants to prevent the UK from getting a soft transitional deal that would allow single market access once it has left without meeting the EU’s obligations, such as free movement of people and paying into the EU budget.
Impact on indyref2? GAME ON!