Briefings/documents provided to ministers on a second independence referendum: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested


Details of any briefings by civil servants or documents provided to SG ministers on the topic of a second independence referendum from 21 September 2018 to 23 January 2019.




I attach an extract of relevant information. No other information on the topic of a second independence referendum was provided to Scottish Ministers in the requested time period.



The First Minister has made clear that she will seek to update the position regarding an independence referendum once there is more clarity on the outcome of the Brexit process.
The Edinburgh Agreement (2012) stated that “The Governments have agreed to promote an Order in Council under Section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998 in the United Kingdom and Scottish Parliaments to allow a single question referendum on Scottish independence to be held before the end of 2014. The Order will put beyond doubt that the Scottish Parliament can legislate for the referendum”.

The Consultation on a Draft Referendum, published in 2016, stated that “If the Scottish Government decided to formally introduce this Bill to Parliament, it would be expected that a section 30 order would be sought and agreed, as in 2014”.

On 13 March 2017 the First Minister announced that the Scottish Government would seek the approval of the Scottish Parliament to open discussions with the UK Government on the details of a Section 30 Order – the procedure that will enable the Scottish Parliament to legislate for an independence referendum. On 28 March the Scottish Parliament passed a motion mandating the Scottish Government to take forward discussions with the UK Government for a referendum on Scotland’s future, including independence, by 69 votes to 59.

The First Minister wrote to the Prime Minister on 31 March 2017 asking to begin early discussions between governments to agree an Order under section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998 that would enable a referendum to be legislated for by the Scottish Parliament.
In June 2017, the First Minister updated the Parliament on this topic. She indicated that Scottish Ministers remain committed strongly to the principle of giving the people of Scotland that choice at the end of the Brexit process, when clarity on the outcome has emerged.
The First Minister said on 16 January 2019 that it was "increasingly clear" that "Scotland's interests will only be protected with independence", and that she would give more details on the timing of a second independence referendum in the "next matter of weeks".


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