Scottish first minister calls for polls before X-mas


Scotland’s first minister has called on Wednesday for a general election before Christmas amid increased possibility of polls following the British government’s pause on the EU withdrawal bill on Tuesday.

Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted an election before the festive season “but the circumstances of that have to be such that it doesn’t open the risk of a no-deal Brexit.”

“I think all responsible opposition MPs who want to see an election have a duty to make sure that that is the case,” Sturgeon told a joint news conference with her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford in London.

She said an extension to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline should be “long enough to allow a general election or a referendum, or, perhaps more realistically, the former leading the latter.”

“That seems to me to be the only route out of this mess for the U.K.,” she said.

Drakeford, for his part, said he also wants a general election but he does not think that “a position of complete clarity” has been reached yet.

Sturgeon reiterated her wish to push for a new independence referendum in Scotland as the country voted to remain in the EU in 2016.

“For the longer term, in order for Scotland never to find itself in this position again — facing a future we have not chosen — yes I do believe we have to make the choice to be an independent country.”

The press conference came after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to receive the support of the House of Commons to fast-track the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Tuesday despite the bill passed the first legislative stage in a separate vote earlier.

Johnson previously said that he could call for elections if the U.K. could not leave the EU on Oct. 31 — a promise he has repeated since he took office.

The EU officials Tuesday said they advised the EU27 to agree on an extension.
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