Scottish lawmakers back independence referendum call

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EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND: Scottish lawmakers voted on Tuesday to seek a new referendum on independence, presenting the British government with an unwelcome distraction as it prepares to push the European Union exit button.

The Edinburgh-based legislature voted 69-59 to ask the U.K. government to sanction an independence vote that would be held within the next two years. Outside, several dozen independence supporters bearing Scottish and EU flags broke into cheers and tears of joy as they heard the news.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who asked lawmakers to authorize her to request the referendum, says Scots must be given the chance to vote on their future before Britain leaves the European Union.

British Prime Minister Theresa May plans to launch the UK's two-year process of exiting the EU on Wednesday by triggering Article 50 of the bloc's key treaty.

Britain as a whole voted to leave the bloc in a referendum last year, but Scots voted by a large margin to stay.

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