Scottish nationalists seek new independence, Brexit votes

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged fresh votes on Brexit and Scottish independence on Wednesday, as she launched her party's general election manifesto.

Sturgeon, who leads the left-leaning secessionist Scottish National Party, aims to hold the balance of power in Britain after the December 12 UK snap general election.

She accused the main UK-wide parties of delivering “constant chaos” since the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, when 55 percent backed staying in the United Kingdom.

Speaking on a Glasgow podium labeled “Stop Brexit,” Sturgeon said: “It is time to take Scotland's future into Scotland's hands.”

She is seeking a second independence referendum in 2020.

Of the 650 seats in the British parliament’s lower House of Commons, 59 represent Scottish constituencies and the SNP is defending 35 of them.

The SNP hope to be kingmakers in the next parliament.

Sturgeon has said that while she would not align with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, she could back a Labour government if it met certain demands -- notably on another independence referendum and the removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland.

“There is every chance that the SNP could hold the balance of power,” she said. “We will be prepared to talk to other parties about forming a progressive alliance.”

Johnson's Conservatives lead the polls across Britain but a Panelbase survey in Scotland on November 20-22 put the SNP on 40 percent -- 12 points ahead of the Tories.

Labour trailed on 20 percent with the smaller Liberal Democrats on 11 percent, when undecided respondents were removed.

The poll of 1,009 Scottish residents put support for independence on 45 percent, with those against on 47 percent.

Sturgeon also said the bulk of future oil and gas receipts should be put into a “net-zero fund,” focusing on measures to battle climate change.

She described Johnson as “dangerous and unfit for office.”

Sturgeon, 49, said the reality of Scotland being part of the UK meant budget cuts, “a power grab on the Scottish Parliament; children forced into poverty; and a disastrous Brexit deal, which will hit jobs, living standards and workers’ rights.”

Scotland voted in favor of staying in the European Union at the 2016.

Sturgeon said there would be “worse to come” if Johnson remained in office, adding: “This is just the start.”

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