As Nicola Sturgeon gears up for a second independence referendum, Unionist parties lay out their stalls
FIRST MINISTER Nicola Sturgeon has described a second independence referendum as not only legitimate but “necessary” if a hard Brexit is imposed on Scotland by the UK Government.
In a speech yesterday (Tuesday 28 February) in Edinburgh to the David Hume Institute (DHI), she said that the UK Government and pro-Brexit interests had committed a “gross betrayal” of promises made to Scotland ahead of last year’s Brexit vote.
She also said if a deal cannot be struck, a second referendum “may offer the only way in which our voice can be heard, our interests protected, and our values upheld”.
Her comments follow the House of Lords vote which saw peers voting down a proposal by Labour Lord Peter Hain to add an amendment to the Brexit bill allowing the UK to remain in the EU single market.
“Proposing a further decision on independence wouldn’t simply be legitimate, it would almost be a necessary way of giving the people of Scotland a say in our own future direction.” Nicola Sturgeon
Sturgeon added: “Proposing a further decision on independence wouldn’t simply be legitimate, it would almost be a necessary way of giving the people of Scotland a say in our own future direction.”
While the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU by 52 per cent to 48 per cent last summer, Scotland voted by 62 per cent to stay part of the EU.
Recently the Scottish Government has made overtures to the UK Government, angling for a special deal that would keep Scotland in the single market, producing its own Scotland in Europe paper of compromise proposals. However, any hope of an agreement was dashed last month when the UK Government Brexit white paper failed to mention any compromises or concessions for Scotland.
This constitutional crisis is mirrored in Northern Ireland where 55 per cent of the public voted to stay. The main unionist party and lead force in the previous power sharing government, the DUP, is committed to leaving alongside the Tories.
“The Scottish Parliament has major new powers over tax and welfare, which the SNP simply refuses to use.” Kezia Dugdale
Commenting on Nicola Sturgeon’s speech to the DHI, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “This is ridiculous scaremongering from Nicola Sturgeon.
“The Scottish Parliament has major new powers over tax and welfare, which the SNP simply refuses to use. Rather than claiming there is a ‘grave threat’ to devolution, Nicola Sturgeon could instead use the powers at her disposal to introduce a 50p top rate of income tax or increase Child Benefit, rather than picking yet another constitutional fight. It is a dereliction of duty for the First Minister to give up on devolution so easily.”
There has also been concern over the legal route to a new referendum. The Scottish Government would require permission through a Section 30 order to institute a referendum with the consent of the UK Government.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, who is has positioned herself as the main defender of the union in Scotland, claimed in a Holyrood magazine article this week that her party has a strategy in place to deal with any new independence referendum.
Davidson told Holyrood: “I don’t think another independence referendum is inevitable. But I certainly don’t think we should talk about what moves we would make in response to moves that the SNP haven’t made yet… thus showing them our hand.”
Sturgeon is expected to unveil any future plans about a new referendum at the SNP conference on March 17 in Aberdeen.
Picture courtesy of First Minister of Scotland
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