September 20, 2021

UK shoots down Scottish leader’s call for new referendum

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has renewed her call for a second independence referendum, however was instantly shot down by the British authorities.

“For countries of Scotland’s size, independence works. It works for Denmark, for Ireland, for Austria, for Norway, for Finland – and for so many others beside. These are disparate countries with different resources and economies, but independence works for all of them,” she mentioned at a video-conference of the Scottish Nationwide Celebration (SNP) on Monday (13 September).

“It is in that spirit of co-operation that I hope the Scottish and UK governments can reach agreement – as we did in 2014 – to allow the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland to be heard and respected,” she added.

“Democracy must – and will – prevail,” she additionally mentioned.

“The United Kingdom is after all a voluntary union of nations. Until recently, no one seriously challenged the right of the people in Scotland to choose whether or not they wished to become independent,” Sturgeon went on.

“Frankly, it is not up to a Westminster Government which has just six MPs in Scotland to decide our future without the consent of the people who live here,” she mentioned.

Sturgeon accused British leaders of utilizing Brexit as a weapon to assault independence.

Brexit, which she described as an “obsession of the Tory right” had wreaked financial harm on Scotland, she famous.

And “Westminster will use all that damage that they have inflicted as an argument for yet more Westminster control,” she mentioned.

“By making us poorer, they’ll say we can’t afford to be independent. By cutting our trade with the EU, they’ll say we are too dependent on the rest of the UK,” she added.

The primary minister additionally diverged from Westminster on coronavirus by opting to maintain in place face-mask guidelines and vaccine-pass restrictions.

And he or she mentioned Tory asylum coverage “fails the basic test of humanity”.

She spoke from a place of energy, after a new survey by the Panelbase pollster the identical day confirmed the SNP had 47 % assist, that means it could win 53 MPs out of 129 within the Scottish Parliament if elections have been held at the moment – 5 greater than within the final vote in 2019.

However, on the similar time, simply 26 % of Scottish individuals believed Scotland would achieve independence within the subsequent 5 years – masking the interval to the subsequent election, which is due in 2023 or 2024.

In the meantime, 37 % believed it could not occur for no less than 5 years, whereas an additional 27 % felt it could not occur “at any point in the next few decades”.

And Sturgeon’s comparability of Scotland to different EU nations, equivalent to Denmark or Eire, didn’t account for the very fact the EU won’t let an unbiased Scotland be a part of the union, not least because of a Spanish veto, primarily based on fears of making a precedent for Catalan secession.

Dangerous timing?

For its half, the UK authorities additionally took goal at Sturgeon’s remarks at a press briefing in London whilst she was nonetheless ending her speech.

“Our view … is that now is simply not the time to be dealing with this. The public are looking to governments and leaders across the UK to focus on dealing with this ongoing pandemic and recovering the economy,” a authorities spokesman mentioned.

“Scottish people have been clear they want to see the UK government and devolved governments working together to defeat the pandemic, that’s our priority,” the spokesman added, noting that Westminster had put aside £1.1bn in well being and social care funding for Scotland by 2025.

The Scottish Conservative and Labour events have been much more outspoken of their assaults.

“Only the most fanatical SNP supporters will buy Nicola Sturgeon’s wild conspiracy theory that the UK is trying to make Scotland poorer. Instead of focusing on the NHS crisis and protecting jobs, Nicola Sturgeon has invented her own nationalist ‘Project Fear’,” Scottish Conservative MP Donald Cameron mentioned.

“At some stage, Nicola Sturgeon is going to have to find something new to say,” he added.

Sturgeon’s speech was the “same old rhetoric, slogans, and platitudes,” Scottish Labour chief Anas Sarwar mentioned.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s spin does nothing to tackle the levels of child poverty on our streets, the numbers waiting for treatment in our hospitals, and the depth of the economic crisis facing Scotland,” he added.

The SNP now plans to desk a invoice for a second independence vote within the Scottish parliament.

But when the British authorities blocks this, the legality of the referendum venture must be determined in court docket.

The primary referendum, in 2014, noticed 55 % of Scottish individuals vote to remain within the UK.

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