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On 28 March 2017 the Scottish Parliament voted to open formal talks with the UK Government on details of a Section 30 Order that would enable an independence referendum to be held.

On 29 March 2017 the UK Government initiated Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty officially declaring the UK's intention to leave the EU. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commented.

The FM had announced on Monday 13 March 2017 that the Scottish Government was seeking a referendum on independence to be held between the Autumn of 2018 and the Spring of 2019.

A referendum, the FM said, would give Scotland the choice between a hard Brexit and becoming an independent country.

On 23 June 2016, the UK-wide referendum on EU membership resulted in a majority for leaving the EU of 52% to 48%. However in Scotland the outcome showed a majority for remaining as part of the EU of 62% to 38%. There was a majority for remain in every local authority area.

The Scottish Parliament election held on 5 May 2016 returned the SNP as the largest party and confirmed a Scottish Government led by Ms Sturgeon.

The previous Scottish Government, elected in 2011, had consulted on a range of potential changes to the country's constitution.

An independence referendum consultation, Your Scotland, Your Referendum was launched by the then First Minister Alex Salmond on 25 January, 2012, and closed at midnight on Friday, 11 May, 2012. It attracted more than 26,000 responses.

On 15 October, 2012, the Edinburgh Agreement was signed by Mr Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron. The Agreement ensured that the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood was able to deliver a referendum that met the highest standards of fairness, transparency and propriety.

On 5 February, 2013, the Scottish Government published the first in a series of papers intended to show how a constitutional platform ould be put in place in the event of a yes vote in the independence referendum.

On 21 March, 2013 the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament, setting the conditions for the referendum and for it to be held on 18 September, 2014.

Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland was published on Tuesday 26 November, 2013.

The referendum was held on Thursday, 18 September, 2014.

The Question on the ballot paper was ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’

The official result of the Scottish Independence Referendum on a turnout of 84.6% was:

  • Yes 1,617,989 (44.5%)
  • No 2,001,926 (55.5%)

The day after the 2014 Referendum the Smith Commission was set up with a remit to take forward the commitments made on further powers for the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Government published its proposal for More Powers on 10 October, 2014.

The Elections and Constitution Division in the Scottish Government supports constitutional reform work.