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Scottish lawmakers reject triggering Brexit in symbolic vote

By Elisabeth O’Leary | EDINBURGH

EDINBURGH Scotland’s devolved parliament overwhelmingly rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to exit the European Union in a symbolic, non-binding vote on Tuesday.

Although Britain as a whole opted to leave the EU in last June’s referendum, most of the electorate in Scotland voted to remain.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly demanded that the interests of Scotland be taken into account during upcoming Brexit negotiations and says Scotland must have a choice on holding a new independence referendum if that is not the case.

“(This vote) is a key test of whether Scotland’s voice is being listened to and whether our wishes can be accommodated within the UK process,” Sturgeon said ahead of the vote.

The Scottish government says it is keeping an open mind but that so far the British government is not complying with its promise to consider Scottish proposals.

“So far the UK government has offered nothing – not a single compromise in return, or even a view on our proposals,” said Scottish minister Michael Russell, who is negotiating Scotland’s position on Brexit with the UK government.

Tuesday’s motion proposed by the Scottish government was backed by 90 votes to 34, with most of the votes against coming from May’s party, the Conservatives.

It argued that the triggering of Article 50, which starts the two-year process for Britain to leave the EU, should be rejected because the government has left too many questions unanswered.

It said the Westminster parliament is not guaranteed a say in any new trade relationship once Britain has left the EU and the decision to proceed “does not respect the majority vote to remain part of the EU that was returned in every council area in Scotland.”

London has not set out provisions for reaching a UK-wide approach with devolved administrations on Brexit, it said, and had left unanswered a range of detailed questions covering many policy areas regarding the full implications of withdrawal from the single market.

Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party has 63 out of seats in the 129-seat Scottish parliament, just short of the 65 seat majority.

(Editing by Stephen Addison)

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