Thousands march for independence in Scottish capital

Edinburgh (AFP) –


Thousands marched in Edinburgh Saturday calling for Scottish independence, with a possible British exit from the European Union just weeks away and calls growing for a fresh vote in Scotland on breaking from Britain.

The demonstrators, many carrying Scottish flags, some wearings kilts and a few playing musical instruments -- including bagpipes -- set off from Holyrood Park in the heart of the Scottish capital.

Among them was lawyer and Scottish Nationalist (SNP) lawmaker Joanna Cherry, who was behind one of the successful legal challenges to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend parliament.

She was also one of main backers of a law passed last month forcing Johnson to ask the European Union for more time to avoid crashing out of the EU without a deal.

The group organising Saturday's march, All Under One Banner, said were hoping to get 100,000 people to attend.

Scotland voted against independence in a 2014 referendum by 55 percent.

But nationalists argue that the 2016 British referendum in favour of Brexit means another independence referendum is necessary -- because Scotland voted by 62 percent to stay in the EU.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, has argued that Brexit will devastate the economy.

Nationalists also argue that some people voted against independence thinking it would guarantee their place inside the EU.

Sturgeon, who wants a second independence referendum in 2021, was unable to attend the march, but tweeted a message of support.

Some independence activists also joined the march, while a few pro-Union protesters carrying Union Jack flags staged a small counter-demonstration.