(Note that the speech does not start right away. About 2 minutes into the video.)

Before the end of this month – and very possibly as early as tomorrow – the Prime Minister will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, setting the UK on course to leave the EU in March 2019.

It is important, therefore, for me to report now on the Scottish Government’s attempts to find compromise with the UK government and set out our plan to protect Scotland’s interests.

Right now, Scotland stands at a hugely important crossroads.

We didn’t choose to be in this position.

In common with most people across the country, I wish that we weren’t.

But we are, and the stakes are high – so we must have a plan for the way forward.

For better or worse – depending on your point of view – the future of the UK looks very different today than it did two years ago.

As a result of the Brexit vote we face a future, not just outside the EU, but also outside the world’s biggest single market.

In addition, the collapse of the Labour Party means that we face a prolonged period of uninterrupted and unchecked Conservative government at Westminster.

Some predict that the Tories could be in power now at Westminster until 2030 or beyond.

And after a period which has seen the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and, more recently, hard won extensions to its responsibilities, we now face the prospect of a centralization of power at Westminster.

Indeed, the Prime Minister herself has been clear that the Brexit process will see the UK government reserve for itself powers in areas that are currently wholly devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

All of this has massive implications for Scotland.

It has implications for our economy: for jobs, opportunities, public spending, and living standards – and for our ability to protect and advance our vital day to day priorities in education, health and business.

It has implications for our society – how open, welcoming, diverse and fair we will be in future?

And it has implications for our democracy – to what extent will we be able to determine our own direction of travel, rather than having it decided for us?

In short, it is not just our relationship with Europe that is at stake.

At is at stake is the kind of country we will become.

At times of change and uncertainty, the instinct to do nothing and just hope for the best is understandable.

But, in my view, it is not the right one.

At times like these, it is more important than ever to have a clear plan for the way ahead – to try, as far as is possible, to be in control of events and not just at the mercy of them.

That is what I have always done. It is what I have tried to do since the day after the EU referendum last year. And it is what I am determined to continue to do.

Since last June, my focus has been on trying to find an agreement with the UK government that would reconcile the UK wide vote to leave with the Scottish vote to remain.

I was encouraged in this approach by the Prime Minister’s commitment last July to seek agreement with the devolved administrations on a UK wide approach before triggering Article 50.

The Scottish Government’s paper, Scotland’s Place in Europe, was published in good faith.

Our proposals represent significant compromise on the part of the Scottish Government.

We accepted that Scotland would leave the EU – despite the 62% vote to remain – but argued that the UK should either stay in the single market or seek an outcome that would allow Scotland to do so.

And we set out how greater powers for the Scottish Parliament could help protect Scotland’s interests in a post Brexit landscape.

Over the past few months, we have worked hard – really hard – to try to find agreement. The Prime Minister and her government have been given every opportunity for compromise.

But today as we stand, for all we know, on the eve of Article 50 being triggered, not only is there no UK wide agreement on the way ahead – but the UK government has not moved even an inch in pursuit of compromise and agreement.

Our efforts at compromise have instead been met with a brick wall of intransigence.

UK membership of the single market was ruled out with no prior consultation with the Scottish Government or with the other devolved administrations – leaving us facing not just Brexit, but a hard Brexit.

There has been talk of special deals for the car industry and others, but a point blank refusal to discuss in any meaningful way a differential approach for Scotland.

And far from any prospect of significant new powers for the Scottish Parliament, the UK government is becoming ever more assertive in its intention to muscle in on the powers we already have.

The language of partnership has gone, completely.

And there should be little doubt about this – if Scotland can be ignored on an issue as important as our membership of the EU and the single market, then it is clear that our voice and our interests can be ignored at any time and on any issue.

That cannot be a secure basis on which to build a better Scotland.

But it is where we stand today.

Now let me stress, even at this late stage, I am not turning my back on further discussions should the UK government change its mind and decide it is willing to agree to our compromise proposals.

And, in any event, I will do everything I can to ensure that Scotland’s interests are represented in the EU negotiations that lie ahead.

But I cannot pretend to the Scottish people that a compromise agreement looks remotely likely, given the hardline response from the Prime Minister so far.

That means I have to decide on the best plan to protect our interests now.

It is time for me to set out decisively and with clarity the way forward.

Doing nothing at this stage – in many ways, the easiest thing for me to do – would mean letting Scotland drift through the next two years, with our fingers crossed, simply hoping for the best.

And, of course, I do hope for the best.

I want the UK to get a good deal from the EU negotiations. That is clearly in Scotland’s interests as well as in the interests of our friends in other parts of the UK.

But I am far from alone in fearing a bad deal or no deal.

Nor am I alone in fearing that even a so-called good deal will turn out to be significantly inferior to membership of the single market – and that it will set Scotland on a course that will not only damage our economy, but change the very nature of the society and country we are.

The problem with doing nothing now is that, by the time these fears are realized, it will be too late for Scotland to choose a different path before the damage is done.

That would not be right or fair.

Whatever path we take, it should be one decided by us, not for us.

So let me set out the plan I intend to pursue.

First, I will continue to stand up for Scotland’s interests during the process of Brexit negotiations.

Second, I will now take the steps necessary to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process.

A choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit – or to become an independent country, able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the UK and our own relationship with Europe.

The Scottish Government’s mandate for offering this choice is beyond doubt.

Last year we were elected, with the highest share of the constituency vote won by any party in the history of devolution, on a manifesto that said this:

“The Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum…if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out the EU against our will.”

So I can confirm today that next week I will seek the authority of the Scottish Parliament to agree with the UK government the details of a section 30 order – the procedure that will enable the Scottish Parliament to legislate for an independence referendum.

The UK government was clear in 2014 that an independence referendum should – in their words – ‘be made in Scotland, by the people of Scotland’.

That is a principle that should be respected today.

The detailed arrangements for a referendum – including its timing – must be for the Scottish Parliament to decide.

However, in my view, it is important that Scotland is able to exercise the right to choose our own future at a time when the options are clearer than they are now – but before it is too late to decide on our own path.

Let me be clear what I mean by that.

The timing of the Brexit negotiations is not within the control of the Scottish Government.

However, we must plan on the basis of what we know now.

And what we know is that on the timetable set out by the Prime Minister, the shape of the Brexit deal will become clear in the autumn of next year – ahead of ratification votes by other EU countries.

That is therefore the earliest point at which a referendum would be appropriate.

However, it is just as important that we do not leave it too late to choose a different path in a timely way.

If the UK leaves the EU without Scotland indicating beforehand – or at least within a short time after it – that we want a different relationship with Europe, we could face a lengthy period outside not just the EU but also the single market. That could make the task of negotiating a different future much more difficult.

These considerations lead me to the conclusion that if Scotland is to have a real choice – when the terms of Brexit are known, but before it is too late to choose our own course – then that choice should be offered between the autumn of next year, 2018, and the spring of 2019.

The third – important – aspect of planning ahead is this.

I have already said that by the time a choice comes to be made, there must be greater clarity about Brexit and its implications for us.

It is just as important that there is clarity about the implications of independence. And there will be.

We will be frank about the challenges we face and clear about the opportunities independence will give us to secure our relationship with Europe, build a stronger and more sustainable economy and create a fairer society.

Scotland’s choice must be informed and up to date.

There is a great deal of talk – by all of us – about mandates from the referendums in 2014 and 2016. And neither of those results can – or should – be dismissed.

But the fact is they tell us only so much about the circumstances we find ourselves in now.

In 2014, we didn’t know the UK would vote to leave the EU – had we done so it is likely that some, perhaps on both sides, would have come to a different decision.

And in 2016, independence was not on the ballot paper. We cannot simply assume that because someone voted to Remain in the EU that they would vote Yes for an independent Scotland.

What Scotland deserves, in the light of the material change of circumstances brought about by the Brexit vote, is the chance to decide our future in a fair, free and democratic way – and at a time when we are equipped with the facts we need.

It is – above all – about informed choice.

We know that Brexit has made change inevitable. The option of ‘no change’ is no longer available.

However, we can still decide the nature of change.

Having Scotland’s referendum – at a time when the terms of Brexit are known – will give the Scottish people a choice about the kind of change we want.

And it must be a choice for all of us.

I know there are some who want me to rule out a referendum completely or delay the decision until much further down the line.

I understand why some take that view. And of course these views weigh heavily on me.

But so does this. And this, for me, is a key consideration.

If I ruled out a referendum, I would be deciding – completely unilaterally – that Scotland will follow the UK to a hard Brexit come-what-may, no matter how damaging to our economy and our society it turns out to be.

That should not be the decision of just one politician – not even the First Minister.

By taking the steps I have set out today, I am ensuring that Scotland’s future will be decided not just by me, the Scottish Government or the SNP.

It will be decided by the people of Scotland.

It will be Scotland’s choice.

And I trust the people to make that choice.


You may also be interested in this petition to retain EU citizenship and its privileges and responsibilities.



  1. So, it’s a go now, for definite.

    Wish us well Niko and do not weep for faded Ottoman epochs nor British copycats of it.

    Byron, a Greek-Scot, did not nor did Grivas, later, for all sclerotic empires must pass.

    Come holiday in Dunoon or wherever tickles your fancy for there’ll aye be a slainte and failte for ye and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And so it begins again sigh !

      This time I will sit it out it has to be done to finish this
      once and for all.

      Me brother has given his dog up to the sspca I find out
      and we (the family) are sorting out him coming to dinner etc
      or food parcels till or if his appeal is sorted out.
      Union dividend ??? cant laugh any more just feel sick at his
      and others predicament
      attacking the disabled how low can a nation go
      and I can assure anyone he has been disabled all his life
      all his doctors concur but then the DWP can perform
      miracles with disability all by tick box forms.

      This Be The Verse

      By Philip Larkin
      They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
      They may not mean to, but they do.
      They fill you with the faults they had
      And add some extra, just for you.

      But they were fucked up in their turn
      By fools in old-style hats and coats,
      Who half the time were soppy-stern
      And half at one another’s throats.

      Man hands on misery to man.
      It deepens like a coastal shelf.
      Get out as early as you can,
      And don’t have any kids yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Niko, I’m very sorry.

        I’m totally gutted to find he’s had to give up his dog. That’s just not bloody right. A dog is a member of the family.

        I’m sickened by the callousness of the DWP and Atos or whatever company is making money now out of people’s misery.

        ‘Struth we’d have had a whip round at Munguin Towers to help him with dog food. I’m so angry about that.

        We just can’t have this kind of government for the next 15 years. And it will be worse once the UK is out of the EU.

        Nothing left to protect us from the fascists. British Human Rights? What a laff.

        What can I say? Tell your brother we are thinking of him and that we’re ashamed that this has happened to him.

        As for what Nicola said, I really can’t imagine how anyone can argue with the logic of it. Kezia going on about divisions made me laugh though, given that she and Jeremy are at loggerheads and that blokey with the union jack jaicket and Tom Harris were screaming abuse at Corbyn on Twitter yesterday. They are in the same party, with the same principles and …oooops, there’s division.

        Someone needs to tell her that argument is a dead duck.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. tris

        He did it before any of us knew what he was doing
        overreaction maybe panic on loss of income definitely.

        Listened to Mays Diatribe on Nicola playing at politics
        every accusation she made at Nicola fitted May like a well
        worn glove.
        spose whats good for May is not good for Nicola speaks volumes
        for the English Torys overweening sense of superiority to inferior
        races ie not English Torys.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve not seen May’s reaction yet. She’s one of these people I’d rather not listen to unless I absolutely have to.

          I must be getting old. I’m beginning to worry about the effect that listening to her moany voice telling Tory lies does to my blood pressure.

          As John has said, Niko. If you can get your bros dog back to him both he and I will undertake to help with costs till your bro gets his money sorted out.


  2. Well,nothing much has really changed.
    I think we all knew there was going to be another referendum,it was just a matter of when.
    However,by making it more definite,it makes the negotiations for the Brexiteers with the EU even more difficult because the EU can rightly ask the question as to which entity it will be making a deal with (England or the UK) and what exactly do they bring to the table?
    The only way out for them (May and co.)now,is either to assure the EU that they can and will block Scottish independence or just walk away (hard Brexit) with no deal.
    They will,of course,then have to explain publicly how they intend to do this.
    I think a no deal situation will be untenable even for many Tories so they are in a very difficult place.
    They should have taken the SG offer when they had the chance instead of playing the Rule Britannia card.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I guess no one could say in honestly that Nicola hasn’t bent over backwards to try to accommodate May, and indeed has said she is still prepared to do this.

      If May had anything up her sleeve shoe could have communicated this to Nicola as a fellow Privy Counsellor, in utter secret, but clearly she hasn’t.

      So, it is, regardless of what you Scots want you are being dragged out of the EU, and the single market.

      So throw it back to the Scottish people and let them decide if they want to live for the next 15 years under a Tory government they didn’t elect, or a Scottish one that they will have elected and that will follow the policies that they have already favoured.


  3. Euphoria is giving way to trepidation now. They are going to do everything they can to thwart us. This won’t be the party it was last time. Cameron was an amiable kind of guy, but that dragon woman is a far nastier piece. And she is surrounded by everyone else in Slitherin now.

    I would have preferred the announcement to wait until May 5th. We are now having to fight a proxy referendum instead of a council election. Thats fine in Glasgow or Dundee. But a lot of towns and villages are not yes, and I have already encountered people who can understand the argument about how crap their Labour Council is, and how we are not seeking a republic of Lanarkshire. Now my job just got a lot harder.

    So I must dig out my badges tonight. We cannot lose this time or we become the North of England. God help us. Alba gu brath!


    1. I know, although I can’t see them.

      You know I don’t want them and I don’t make anything out of them. But to make them go away I have to pay.


    2. I read the blogs on Firefox with NoScript, Ghostery and adblock plus all running. So I don’t see any ads. I get options on that to run specific scripts. You learn quite intuitively which ones let you get uninterrupted content, and which ones you need to allow ( temporarily ) to run say a video.

      In order to post I open the blogs on Opera. I don’t have any unwanted ads here either. Its so long since I configured it – and mostly I run Firefox – that I cannot remember if I installed any adblockers. And I don’t remember where to look to find out. I think Opera runs a VPN by default actually. You Tube seems to think I live in Holland!

      I run Ccleaner regularly. and spybot S & D too.

      Try using a different browser that Explorer or Chrome.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I see the Mail has weighed in with its anticipated in-depth political coverage. The sexist bastards.
    No comment about what David Davis was wearing in the London chamber this afternoon?

    Why not?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Jeez, and that’s the Guardian. The trendy liberal-type press. I wonder what the Daily Telegraph makes of her.

        Bet she’s a bloody great MP if you go to her with a problem.


  5. Tris

    I have blogged a wee take on it and it’s game on as Rev Stu has said. You should check out some of the comments on the BBC, we should get soft no’s to read them, we are held in such low esteem by those that love us so much and don’t want us to leave. Editorial standards seem to slip on the SNP bad stories when they BBC decide we can be trusted to comment on anti Scottish matters, bring it on, I have had enough and I will be getting active this time and not just blogging.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Having read many of these comments myself, I agree entirely with what you’ve said.

      Setting aside the enormous amount of derogatory comment directed personally towards Nicola Sturgeon, it’s just so mind boggling how these people can’t see the hypocrisy in what they say, especially given the Brexit fiasco.

      They love you, they hate you, you’re anti English, the EU don’t want you, you’re subsidy junkies, you’re broke, you’re too wee, too poor, too daft, don’t leave, we’ll miss you, don’t go, get lost, you’re not wanted, good riddance etc etc etc. I’m lost for words.

      This time Scotland – vote Yes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL Bob… exactly. It’s quite bewildering.

        But your absolutely right. We have to make a choice. Join Northern Europe and move forward, or leave the EU and become part of a delusional Miss Havisham sitting in a dusty cobweb of a country looking to the 19th century for inspiration.


  6. tris brownlie

    You are both very kind
    But we did offer to help
    Him out on this but he
    Said he had sorted it out
    And would rather leave it
    Than possibly go through it
    All again if he loses his appeal

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s horrible Niko, but I sense your brother is a proud man who is doing what he thinks best for his dog. Good luck to him.


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