First Minister says referendum legislation to be announced "in coming weeks"
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says her government will decide on the timetable for a second independence referendum “in the coming weeks” – leading to dismay from unionist parties.
Appearing on the BBC's Sunday Morning show, Sturgeon said she has not yet set a date for the legislation for a referendum to be tabled in Holyrood, but reiterated her pledge to hold a referendum before the end of 2023.
Sturgeon said: "The preparatory work on that is underway right now.
"We haven't decided on the date that we would seek to introduce the Bill. We will decide that in the coming weeks.
"But what I have said, and I will happily say again to you right now, is that my intention is to take the steps that will facilitate a referendum happening before the end of 2023.
"That's the proposition that just short of a year ago I fought an election on and was re-elected as First Minister. My party was re-elected with a historically high share of the vote.
"This is about democracy. It's about allowing the people of Scotland to choose our own future."
In response to the First Minister’s comments, the Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: "Nicola Sturgeon throws caution to the wind when it comes to her obsession with another divisive independence referendum.
"It's reckless to try and split up the country when there's an economic crisis facing working people and businesses. But as we know well by now, Nicola Sturgeon's first, last and only real priority is independence.
"The SNP are out of touch with the Scottish public's priorities. Instead of trying to separate Scotland from the United Kingdom, they should be focusing on our economic recovery from Covid and protecting public services."
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP also waded in, saying Scotland “has been held back for too long by the clash of nationalisms”.
Cole-Hamilton said: “The First Minister promised to put the recovery first. If that was the case she would be focusing on the A&E figures currently the worst on record, the 275,000 operations lost to the pandemic, the social care system on its knees or the soaring attainment gap in schools. We heard nothing about those this morning.
“Last week Nicola Sturgeon ordered her MSPs to vote down my plans for a new Burnout Prevention Plan for NHS staff in desperate need of extra protection. The news that her government is busy preparing the case for independence instead says everything about this SNP/Green Government’s priorities during this hardest of winters.
"Our country has been held back for too long by the clash of nationalisms. Scotland needs new hope for the climate, for health, for our young people and our businesses. It is the Scottish Liberal Democrats that will get on with putting forward the fresh ideas.”