London, Sep 14 (IANS) Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that her party intends to hold another legal referendum on independence from Britain by the end of 2023 if the Covid-19 pandemic is under control.
In a speech delivered to the Scottish National Party (SNP)'s autumn conference on Monday, Sturgeon called for a second Scottish independence referendum, asking the British government to agree to it "in the spirit of co-operation", reports Xinhua news agency.
She said that in May people in Scotland elected a new Scottish Parliament which has a "clear and substantial majority in favour of an independence referendum".
"As we emerge from the pandemic, decisions fall to be made that will shape Scotland for decades to come. So we must decide. Who should be making those decisions: people here in Scotland or governments we don't vote for at Westminster.
"That is the choice we intend to offer the Scottish people in a legal referendum within this term of Parliament -- Covid permitting, by the end of 2023," she said in the speech.
Sturgeon added that "it is not up to a Westminster government which has just six MPs in Scotland to decide our future without the consent of the people who live here".
Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Sturgeon said she wouldn't "set a precise level of infection" for when a vote could happen -- "but you would want to see the COVID situation under control".
The SNP conference has backed the Scottish government's plans for the timing of another independence referendum at the "earliest" possible moment after the Covid-19 crisis.
The party said the date should be determined by "data-driven criteria" about when the public health crisis is over.
A Scottish independence referendum was held in 2014, when 55 per cent voters backed staying in Britain.
Soon after Sturgeon's party secured the fourth consecutive victory in the Scottish parliamentary election in May, she pledged to push for a second independence referendum when the pandemic crisis has passed.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said he will not approve a second independence referendum.