On Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon announced that the Scottish government will resume preparations for a new independence referendum, suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, so that it can be held before the end of 2023, as she presents her government’s plans for next year.

Sturgeon stressed that voting will not take place until after the Covid-19 crisis has passed, but that work on the “detailed handout” will be resumed so people can make an informed decision. She hoped that a vote would take place before the end of 2023.

“Our democratic mandate to allow the people, not the politicians, to make the decision about the country’s future is beyond doubt,” she said. As Scotland recovers from the pandemic, she said, “it is essential at this point in history that we think about the kind of country we want to be in and how best to get there.”

She said discussions about Scotland’s future could no longer be avoided or postponed and that her government would prepare detailed answers to questions about independence. “We will ensure that the choice is fully aware when it comes,” she said, adding: “The case for independence is strong and we will present it frankly, honestly, confidently and ambitiously.”

Sturgeon points out that the mandate for a new independence referendum is that the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Scottish Green Party that supports it hold 72 seats in the 129-seat Scottish Parliament. But in the May elections, both parties won about 50 percent. The votes cast, like the three opposition parties, and according to recent opinion polls, the majority of Scots do not want to secede. The referendum has to be approved by the government in London anyway, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says it is time to rebuild the entire country after the pandemic, not for such referendums.

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As for other issues that the Scottish government intends to address next year, Sturgeon has announced, among other things, work on a national welfare system to be up and running within five years, the Gender Recognition Act that would allow transgender people to legally change their gender On the basis of advertising, increased spending on health care, including in particular mental health issues, and working on a guaranteed minimum income.

From London Bartłomiej Niedziński (PAP)

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