Scotland first minister Nicola Sturgeon has responded swiftly to the outcome of the British E.U. referendum, announcing a possible new independence referendum. While the U.K.-wide vote resulted in a 52 percent majority for the Leave campaign, Scotland voted in favor of the U.K. staying in the E.U. by a 62 percent to 38 percent margin, returning a majority for the Remain campaign in every one of it 32 electorates. “Scotland faces the prospect of being taken the E.U. against our will and I find that democratically unacceptable,” she said. ” … for many people the supposed guarantee of remaining in the E.U. was a driver for their vote to remain in the U.K.”
“The prospect of a second referendum must be on the table, and it is on the table,” the Scottish National Party leader added. “We will begin to prepare the legislation required for a new referendum to take place if, and when, Parliament requires.”
In a heightened atmosphere of xenophobia, the first minister overtly reassured European citizens in Scotland that the country is “their home” and that their presence is valued, while expressing her regret at the result of the referendum.
In an earlier interview with The Guardian, Sturgeon said she was let down by the referendum campaign’s extreme focus on immigration, accusing the leadership of those on the leave side of “exploiting and twisting” the public’s anxieties.
She pledged on Friday to “explore all options” to reflect Scotland’s vote and attempt to secure its place in Europe. “I am proud of Scotland and how we voted yesterday,” Sturgeon said, in a press conference at her official residence in Edinburgh. “We proved that we are a modern, outward looking and inclusive country and we said clearly that we do not want to leave the European Union. I am determined to do what it takes to make sure these aspirations are realized.”
Watch Nicola Sturgeon in discussion with Sir Harold Evans at the Women in the World London Summit: