Mike Russell: 'Scotland is moving inexorably to independence'
“Scotland is moving inexorably to independence”, Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations Mike Russell has told SNP members at the party’s spring conference.
With Nicola Sturgeon this week announcing the Scottish Government will push for a second Scottish independence referendum before the next Holyrood election in 2021, Russell used his opening speech to tell delegates “we will get there as long as we take the right path in the right way”.
Appearing in Parliament earlier this week the First Minister said plans for another referendum would come alongside cross-party talks and a “citizens’ assembly” on alternatives to a “failed and damaging status quo”.
But the UK Government rejected the call, with a spokesman for the Prime Minister telling journalists her position had not changed since permission was last sought in 2017.
Speaking in Edinburgh, Russell, who is expected to come back to Parliament at the end of May with more details on the citizens’ assembly, said: “The journey to independence for any nation is never an easy or straightforward one.”
He said: “Because we live in an age which expects instant feedback and instant action we sometimes think that minds can be changed and countries transformed merely by a tweet or a hashtag. I wish it was so.
“I also wish we did not live in a system of governance - devolution - which dances round the outmoded, almost medieval, idea of a sovereign Parliament at Westminster.
“We want to have done with that. But we must also be prepared to mitigate it whilst we still endure it, and be alive to ways it can be changed for the immediate relief of some of the problems experienced by all who live in these islands.
“Though any change is always fiercely resisted by the UK Government. That is why we should always be willing to talk to others about their ideas. No one political group or section of society has a monopoly on wisdom. All of us, to a greater or lesser extent accept that change is needed.
“So we should all be open to listening as well as talking and that is what I pledge myself to do with the other parties in the coming weeks and months. Without compromising principles or beliefs, on any side and about anything.”