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2 September 2016

Nicola Sturgeon launches new debate on Scottish independence

The First Minister unveiled "Scotland's biggest ever listening exercise". 

By Julia Rampen

Nicola Sturgeon is launching “Scotland’s biggest ever listening exercise” on the future of the country after Brexit.

All Scottish regions voted to Remain in the European Union, with 62 per cent of the population backing the status quo. In the immediate aftermath of the vote, support for independence rose. 

The ever-cautious First Minister has stopped short of demanding a second referendum, but her speech on Friday clearly paves the way for one.

She said: “The UK that Scotland voted to stay part of in 2014 has changed — and so too have the arguments. That’s why I believe it is right that our party does now lead a new debate on independence. 

“We must not assume that people’s views — yes or no — are the same today as they were in 2014. Instead we must engage the arguments with a fresh eye and an open mind. And before we start talking we must listen.”

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Sturgeon stressed the need for consensus and encouraged “as many people as possible to take part”, whether or not they are for or against independence.

Those who wish to participate can give their views in an online survey.

Scottish National Party activists will also be asked to speak to five people each month in the run up to 30 November, the national holiday of St Andrew’s Day. 

Sturgeon’s tack towards independence will revive the hopes of such grassroots activists, who continue to campaign for independence.

But as the immediate shock of Brexit dies, the general public may have other ideas. A Times/YouGov poll published the same day as Sturgeon’s speech found the majority of Scots back remaining in the union.

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