In brief

Scottish government “pauses work” on second independence referendum

Holyrood had backed plans to hold the vote before the end of 2020

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon holds pro-independence banner.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon holds pro-independence banner. Author: SNP
The Scottish government has shelved plans to hold an independence referendum in 2020. If earlier rejection by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was not enough, the coronavirus pandemic makes it now impossible to organize the vote before the year ends, the Scottish cabinet has admitted.

Scotland’s Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell has written a letter to UK government’s Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove saying that “the Scottish Government has paused work on preparing for an independence referendum this year.”

The Scottish Parliament had backed in January the government’s proposal to hold the vote before the end of 2020, even if the UK government had previously stated that it would not be granting permission for that. Edinburgh needs London’s agreement to hold the referendum.

Covid-19 had killed three people in Scotland until 19 March. 227 had been tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.