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Scotland’s leader says election success will lead to independence vote

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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon votes on the motion of no confidence against herself in the main chamber of the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh, Scotland on March 23, 2021. – Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon survived a no-confidence vote in parliament Tuesday and vowed not to give in to “bully” tactics as she readies for a new drive to split the nation from the United Kingdom. (Photo by Jane Barlow / POOL / AFP)

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday said she will push for another referendum on independence if her party is voted back into power at upcoming elections.

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“There will be another independence referendum if the people of Scotland vote for another independence referendum,” she told the devolved parliament in Edinburgh.

Sturgeon this week survived a no-confidence vote after a turbulent period in which she has been under pressure about her government’s handling of harassment complaints against her predecessor.

But having being cleared of breaching the ministerial code, she will lead her Scottish National Party (SNP) at Scottish parliament elections on May 6.

Sturgeon, in power since 2014, said it would be a chance to put her record before the people, with predictions the SNP will win a majority, strengthening their push for another independence vote.

Scots voted against independence in 2014 but the SNP argues that the UK’s Brexit departure from the European Union — which most Scots opposed — has dramatically changed the political calculus.

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The SNP this week set out plans to hold a vote by the end of 2023 but the party is expected to face strong resistance from the UK government in London, which has to grant powers for a vote.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly ruled out doing so.

Sturgeon, 50, has won popular support from her handling of Edinburgh’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But there have been indications the furore involving her former friend and mentor, Alex Salmond, dented backing for independence.

Scots are split virtually 50-50 as to whether to stay part of the United Kingdom or go their own way.

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