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Scotland May Break From UK Plan For 'Hard Brexit'

by Jason Gorringe,, London
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Scotland is planning to hold another referendum on independence from the UK following concerns over the decision to leave the European Union Single Market when quitting membership.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that despite Scotland's opposition to leaving the European Single Market, "our efforts at compromise have been met with a brick wall of intransigence."

"UK membership of the Single Market was ruled out with no prior consultation with the Scottish Government or indeed with the other devolved administrations, leaving us facing not just Brexit but a hard Brexit," she told a press conference at Bute House.

She said that a new referendum would give Scottish people "a choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit or to become an independent country, able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the UK and our own relationship with Europe."

The referendum would be held between fall 2018 and spring 2019 "when the terms of Brexit are known, but before it is too late to choose our own course," Sturgeon said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has previously said that Brexit would mean leaving the EU Single Market and announced plans to trigger Article 50 by March 31. The EU has said only once the UK triggers that Article will detailed Brexit negotiations begin. Without access to the Single Market, to retain preferential trading terms, the UK would need to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU. There are concerns that this would take more than the two-year transitional period under the mechanism for a member state to leave the EU, after which relationships between the UK and the EU would go back to zero.

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