Any attempt to block second indyref risks "undermining the democratic process”, Nicola Sturgeon warns

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 21 March 2017 in News

FM introduces motion requesting Section 30 order from Westminster to legislate for a second independence vote

Nicola Sturgeon - Parliament TV

Any attempt by Theresa May to block a second referendum on Scottish independence “runs the real risk of undermining the democratic process”, Nicola Sturgeon has warned.

Introducing a motion in the Scottish Parliament to request a Section 30 order from Westminster to legislate for a second independence vote, the First Minister told the chamber that “the future of Scotland should not be imposed upon us, it should be the choice of the people of Scotland”.

Sturgeon last week announced plans to hold a second referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, leading the Prime Minister to respond that “the time is not right” for a vote.


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The Scottish Tories then tabled an amendment calling for MSPs to rule out the idea of holding a referendum before the UK leaves the EU.

In a bad-tempered debate, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson accused the SNP of a “bulldozer approach” to the constitution, claiming that just a third of Scots were in favour of holding a second referendum.

Davidson said: “The SNP’s plans last week were not about trying to hold a fair, legal and decisive referendum. They were really about a well-rehearsed game, which is to put forward an unworkable proposal, wait for Westminster politicians to point that out and then rush to a nearby microphone with the angry face on and trot out the same old, tired complaints.”

But with the Greens announcing they will back the motion, the Scottish Parliament is likely to vote tomorrow in favour of requesting the Section 30 order to legislate for a second referendum before spring 2019.

Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie came under fire from pro-union parties, with Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale accusing the party of providing a “perpetual crutch” to the SNP.

Confirming Scottish Labour will vote against holding a second referendum, Dugdale said: “At a time when so much of the world is ravaged by division. When the trend in too many places is separation. I value the fact that our four nations come together to share sovereignty and resources. That we recognise that together we’re stronger, more so than we ever could be apart.”

But Harvie hit back at criticism over the party’s stance, saying it was “absurd to suggest that we should not respond to and react to the fundamentally-changed circumstances we now find ourselves in”.

He said: “The people of Scotland deserve to have a choice, and it's appalling to see anti-democratic Tories trying to close down our options, while a feeble Labour party simply rolls over on what will be a devastating hard Brexit we did not vote for.

“Greens have consistently called for Scotland's Remain vote to be respected. Other opposition parties who once claimed to support Scotland's EU membership have simply given up, and have instead put their energies into trying to mislead people about the Green manifesto.”

Meanwhile Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie questioned the justification for a second referendum. He said: “I want to address the issue of this cast iron mandate. For the SNP their mandate for another referendum is based on the European Union. But now the SNP tell us they will not seek or guarantee membership of the European Union with their referendum.

“They will use the EU to get a referendum even though their referendum won’t get the EU. And we know the reason why.  They are cynically courting the one in three independence supporters who backed Brexit.  So they will use pro Europeans to get a referendum but sell them out to win independence. It is low politics for narrow gain.”

The FM said: “To suggest that an emphatic election victory, on the basis of a clear manifesto commitment, and a parliamentary majority on an issue do not provide a mandate begs the question of what does and runs the real risk of undermining the democratic process.”

She added: “As a result of the Brexit vote, we know that change is now inevitable. The question is, what kind of change is right for Scotland and should that be decided for us or by us? In the past two years or so, the Scottish Government has made a number of proposals that were designed to protect Scotland from the impact of Brexit. It is important to note that had any one of those proposals been accepted by the United Kingdom Government, we would not be having this debate today.”

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