SNP to seek Scottish independence vote after election victory

The Scottish National Party took 64 of the 129 parliamentary seats up for grabs, just one short of an overall majority.

Video Transcript

JONAH HULL: It's not the outright majority of the Scottish National Party had hoped for, but the election has produced a majority for independence, with the SNP bolstered by the Greens. First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon made clear what she intends to do with it.

NICOLA STURGEON: Both the SNP and the Scottish Greens stood on a clear commitment to an independence referendum within the next parliamentary term. And both of us made clear that the timing of a referendum should be decided by a simple majority of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.

JONAH HULL: Pandemic recovery is the immediate priority. After that, the plan is for the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a referendum to take place within the next five years. It'll be for the government in London in charge of UK constitutional affairs to agree, negotiate, or challenge it in the Supreme Court, a spectacle that would risk inflaming separatist desire even further.

COREE BROWN SWAN: So right now, polling suggests perhaps a slight slip, and that support for independence looking kind of 48%, 49%. But it's been 50% consistently over the last year. The one thing that makes-- that would make this referendum different, though, is that there's not a whole lot of people who are undecided. There's not a whole lot of people who haven't made their mind up on independence. So you would have to change minds rather than-- rather than enlighten people or bring people together. So you would have to-- have to change their entrenched positions, which might be more difficult.

JONAH HULL: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has consistently ruled out a second referendum. The first in 2014 was lost by a 10-point margin, something he believes should have put the issue to bed for a generation. But then Brexit happened, which Scotland voted against by a large margin in 2016. Being taken out of the EU against their will, as many see it, has reinvigorated the drive to leave the United Kingdom.

What it all serves to demonstrate-- this election, intervening events since 2014, the declining influence of Unionist Party, Scottish Labor, and the Conservatives-- is just how divided this country now is, split pretty much right down the middle. There may well be a path to a second referendum now, but still no way of predicting the outcome if it happens. And with its politics set to be defined by antagonism towards Westminster and the pursuit of independence from it for years to come-- Jonah Hull, Al Jazeera, Edinburgh.