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AKIPRESS.COM - A second Scottish independence referendum is "highly likely", First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday, raising the prospect that the United Kingdom could tear itself apart after voting to leave the European Union, Reuters reports.
Scotland, a nation of five million people, voted decisively to stay in the EU by 62 to 38 percent in a referendum on Thursday, putting it at odds with the United Kingdom as a whole, which voted 52-48 in favor of an exit from the EU, or Brexit.
"As things stand, Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against her will. I regard that as democratically unacceptable," Sturgeon told a news conference in Edinburgh.
"I think an independence referendum is now highly likely."
A vote for independence would end the 300-year-old union between Scotland and England, its far bigger southern neighbor, dealing a body blow to the United Kingdom at a time when it is likely to still be dealing with the complex fallout from Brexit.
It would also transform the political landscape in the rump of the United Kingdom by making it much harder for Labour, the main opposition to the ruling Conservatives, to win power in London, as the party has relied on Scottish votes in the past.
Scots rejected independence by 55 to 45 percent in a 2014 referendum, but since then Sturgeon's pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) has become much more powerful.
EU membership was one of the key issues in 2014, with those campaigning for Scotland to stick with the United Kingdom arguing that an independent Scotland would not be able to remain a member of the bloc.
Sturgeon said many Scots who had voted against independence for that reason were now re-assessing their decision.
"I intend to take all possible steps and explore all options to give effect to how people in Scotland voted (on Thursday), in other words to secure our continuing place in the EU and in the single market," she said.