The First Minister said that she would set out her views on a second referendum at the end of the current phase of Brexit negotiations
- Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie said: “Scotland needs the freedom to take a different direction”
- Nicola Sturgeon said she would wait to see what clarity emerges over the next few days of Brexit negotiations, though she suspects “that will just be clarity that there will be no clarity”
- The first minister’s comments follow her statement earlier this month, promising to “exercise her mandate” to call such a vote
FIRST MINISTER Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that she will express her views on a second independence referendum at the end of the current phase of Brexit negotiations, potentially setting the stage for an announcement within days.
If such an announcement was made, then details of a possible referendum could become clear prior to the SNP’s upcoming conference in Edinburgh next month.
Sturgeon made this commitment after being called upon to reveal her preferred timing for a further plebiscite by Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP at First Minister’s Questions earlier today (21 March).
Harvie said: “Scotland needs the freedom to take a different direction, leave behind this Brexit chaos and find our own way out of the crisis. This is why we need independence.
“The people of Scotland need clarity about when they will have the choice to decide their own future, when they can make the decision to remain in the EU as an independent member state.” Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie
“The First Minister said she would tell the people of Scotland her preferred timing for an independence referendum within weeks, but that was months ago.
“The people of Scotland need clarity about when they will have the choice to decide their own future, when they can make the decision to remain in the EU as an independent member state.”
Responding, Sturgeon stated: “The frustration people feel right now at our country, Scotland’s future, being determined by the DUP and a cabal of right-wing Tories is understandable and I absolutely share.
“I said I’d wait until the end of this phase of Brexit negotiations before setting out my views and the way forward for Scotland.
“Having done so this long, I think it is reasonable to wait to see what clarity emerges in the next few days, even if I suspect that will just be clarity that there will be no clarity.
The question is how do we fix that for the future and there’s no doubt in my mind that letting people in Scotland choose an independent future is the best way to do that.” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
“And then I will set out my views on the path forward.
“But there is no doubt,” Sturgeon continued, “nobody can be in any doubt that change is needed. The last three years have shown that the status quo is broken – it cannot protect Scotland from the folly of Brexit and all that flows from that.
“Even the most ardent unionists must see that the way we are governed now by Westminster is broken. The question is how do we fix that for the future and there’s no doubt in my mind that letting people in Scotland choose an independent future is the best way to do that.”
The first minister also condemned Prime Minister Theresa May for failing “to accept any responsibility that she bears for the mess that the UK is in right now.”
Sturgeon said: “She wanted to blame everybody except herself. But most people know it was the Prime Minister who triggered Article 50 without a plan, it was the Prime Minister who drew self-defeating, contradictory red lines that boxed her in from the start, it was the Prime Minister that called an unnecessary general election, who delayed the fist vote on her deal in an attempt to run down the clock.”
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Last week, Sturgeon said that she intends to “exercise her mandate” to hold a second vote on independence, telling Sky News: “If we are to be taken out of the EU against our will, there’s a mandate in Scotland at two elections now, to give the people the choice of independence.”
However, earlier this month, Sturgeon distanced herself from comments made by SNP depute leader Keith Brown, which were interpreted by some as an endorsement of an unauthorised Catalan-style referendum in the event of permission being refused by the UK Government, which reserves control over all matters relating to the constitution.
Brown stated: “Now I have said… that I don’t think certainly the SNP, and I don’t think the Yes movement, should be willing to anticipate a refusal of a Section 30 order as a reason not to call a referendum. If we want to have a referendum, then we decide we’re going to have a referendum.”
READ MORE: Sturgeon: ‘Why’ not ‘when’ most important independence task ‘right now’
Elaborating on his position later on social media, Brown said: “My position is clear – the deeply undemocratic stance of the UK government in denying the mandate for indyref and refusing a Section 30 order should not prevent the Scottish Government seeking one and planning on the basis of winning that case.”
Following accusations from interim Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw that the SNP was planning an “illegal” referendum, Sturgeon replied: She said: “The legal basis should be the same as the basis for the last referendum. The only reason we’re talking about this is the disgracefully undemocratic stance of the Conservatives who refuse to recognise the mandate of not just one election, but two elections and endorsed by this Parliament.”
However, Sturgeon’s remarks followed those of Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who – when asked if the UK Government would grant permission for a second independence referendum if the Scottish Government requested on – said: “I can tell you the answer to that very simply – the answer of course will be no.”
Picture courtesy of Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916