Scottish Independence Referendum Bill: what you need to know

We’re putting Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.

The Scottish Government has now published the draft Independence Referendum Bill to give people in Scotland the right to decide their future, with a post-pandemic independence referendum.

Scotland’s future, Scotland’s choice

Scotland faces a choice of who should be in charge of our COVID recovery and our future.

Distant Westminster Tory governments that we consistently reject, led by the likes of Boris Johnson – or the people who live in Scotland?

The Bill enables that choice by providing a framework for Scotland’s independence referendum.

It’s for the Scottish Parliament, not Westminster, to decide the timing

The election on May 6 will be absolutely crucial. Here’s why.

If there’s a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament after the election, there would not be any democratic justification for any Westminster government to deny Scotland’s right to choose.

Taking into account the ongoing COVID pandemic, the referendum on Scottish independence should be held in the first half of the next Scottish Parliament – and it will be the Scottish Parliament’s decision to take.

No UK government can deny Scotland’s right to choose

The Tories desperately want to spin the “once in a generation” argument in an attempt to deny Scotland’s voice.

However, all parties, including the Tories, signed up to the Smith Commission report published after the referendum in 2014, which explicitly stated Scottish democracy isn’t a one-time event.

It said: “It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose.

If the people of Scotland elect a pro-independence majority, the UK government cannot deny Scotland’s democratic will.

An internationally recognised referendum

The Scottish Government is committed to a referendum which is beyond legal challenge – ensuring it is properly recognised here in Scotland, and crucially, by the international community including the EU.

This is to make sure that if the people vote for independence in the referendum, this can take effect.

“Should Scotland be an independent country?”

The draft Independence Referendum Bill proposes the same question as used in 2014 – “Should Scotland be an independent country?” – with ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ answers on the ballot paper.

After the Bill is introduced to the Scottish Parliament, the Electoral Commission is required to consider the wording of the question and publish its views as soon as possible.

The Scottish Government also intends to translate the question into Gaelic, subject to Electoral Commission consideration.

Everyone who can vote in the Holyrood and local elections will be able to vote in a referendum

Since 2014, we have further extended the franchise for the local government and Holyrood elections – and the same will apply to the independence referendum.

This means that all of these groups who live in Scotland will have the vote:

  • All those aged 16 and over on referendum day
  • Citizens of all nationalities legally resident in Scotland – including EU citizens, refugees and those granted asylum.
  • Prisoners serving sentences of less than 12 months

Scotland has what it takes to thrive with independence

We can build a fairer, more prosperous society as an independent country, with all the powers we need to grow our economy and invest in our public services.

Evidence clearly demonstrates that Scotland is big enough, smart enough and wealthy enough to emulate the success of other independent countries of our size – such as Ireland, Denmark or Norway.

And as an independent member of the EU, free from the damage of a hard Tory Brexit, Scotland would be part of the huge Single Market – seven times the size of the UK.

A referendum is within our reach – but only if we vote for it

Out of 30 polls since June 2020, 24 have shown a clear majority for Scottish independence – including the most recent by BGM/The Herald, with YES at 52%.

The people who live in Scotland are in charge of deciding whether and when they want a referendum on Scotland’s future.

The best way to secure that referendum is by making it Both Votes SNP on May 6.

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