Alex Cole-Hamilton: Lib Dems will oppose indyref2 ‘at every stage’
The Scottish Liberal Democrats will “oppose a second independence referendum at every stage,” Alex Cole-Hamilton has said.
Writing to party members, the leader said he and his parliamentary colleagues were elected on a “cast iron mandate” to speak out against any moves to hold a referendum.
Cole-Hamilton added that is was his “firm expectation” that the Supreme Court will rule that legislation for a vote is outwith the competence of the Scottish Parliament.
It follows an announcement made earlier this week by Nicola Sturgeon that the Scottish Government is seeking a referendum on 19 October 2023.
The First Minister has asked the Lord Advocate to take the government’s case to the Supreme Court to test whether it is possible for the parliament to pass the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill without a section 30 order being granted by the UK Government.
The UK Government has repeatedly insisted that “now is not the time” for a poll and it believes that, since issues to do with the Union are reserved, the Scottish Parliament would not be able to legislate.
However the Scottish Government argues it can because a referendum would be consultative, not legally-binding.
Following a meeting earlier this week with Lib Dem members, Cole-Hamilton said: “When people are struggling to feed their families, when they are waiting in record queues for operations and cancer care and when Covid rates are on the rise, the focus of our parliament should not be dragged to the constitution.
“I and my colleagues were elected to the Scottish Parliament with a cast iron mandate to oppose a second independence referendum at every stage, and we will take pride in continuing to honour that.
“It is my firm expectation and my hope that the Supreme Court will reject the legality of a non-binding referendum and allow us to focus on the issues that matter to the people of this country.”