Boris says Brexit is ‘glorious opportunity’, but Scottish independence vote looms
Boris Johnson sought to calm fears about the impact of the Brexit referendum decision, but no sooner had he finished speaking than it emerged Scotland is set to push for independence from the United Kingdom.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would take immediate steps to draw up legislation allowing a Scottish independence referendum to take place.
Ms Sturgeon said she had no option after yesterday’s UK referendum on membership of the European Union saw Scotland vote 62 to 38% to remain in the EU while England voted 53 to 47% to leave.
Every council area in Scotland voted to remain in the EU. It was “obvious” that an independence referendum was now on the table, she added.
Ms Sturgeon stated:
I will take all steps to keep Scotland in the EU.
The announcement cut across Mr Johnson’s statement, which sought to suggest Britain’s exit from the EU would be orderly and calm.
Mr Johnson, one of the leaders of the Leave campaign, said the referendum result “doesn’t mean in any way that the UK will be less united. Nor does it mean it will be in any way less European”.
In his address, Mr Johnson insisted Britain would not turn its back on Europe.
The former mayor of London, now hot favourite to succeed David Cameron as leader of the Conservative party and prime minister, added:
We can’t turn our backs on Europe. We are part of Europe.
Our children and grandchildren will continue to have a wonderful future in Europe.
He described the European Union as “a noble idea for its time” but the institution was “no longer right for this country”. Mr Johnson added:
We now have a glorious opportunity. We can set our taxes and control our own borders.
We can find our voice in the world. One commensurate with the fifth biggest economy on earth.
He was careful to praise Mr Cameron as “one of the most extraordinary politicians of our age” and added it had been “entirely right” for the prime minister to hold the referendum.
It is about the right of the people of this country to settle their own destiny.
The electorate have searched in their hearts and answered as honestly as they can. A poll the scale of which we have never seen before in this country.
The EU has become too remote and unaccountable to the people it is meant to serve.
Mr Johnson backed the prime minister’s decision not to immediately invoke Article 50 of the EU treaties, triggering a formal process for Britain to leave the European Union.
There is no need to act in great haste. Nothing will change in the short term. Work will have to begin on how to enact the will of the people.
But his comments were immediately challenged by EU leaders who made it clear they expected the UK to immediately begin exit negotiations.
In a statement European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker said:
We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be.
Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty. We have rules to deal with this in an orderly way. Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union sets out the procedure to be followed if a Member State decides to leave the European Union.
We stand ready to launch negotiations swiftly with the United Kingdom regarding the terms and conditions of its withdrawal from the European Union. Until this process of negotiations is over, the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union, with all the rights and obligations that derive from this.
According to the treaties which the United Kingdom has ratified, EU law continues to apply to the full to and in the United Kingdom until it is no longer a member.
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