MSPs to debate independence referendum 'framework' legislation
The Scottish Government's Referendums Bill is expected to progress today, as the Prime Minister visits Scotland to begin election campaigning
MSPs will debate legislation that lays out the "framework" of a new independence referendum today
The Referendums (Scotland) Bill was announced by the Scottish Government in May to set the general powers ministers would have on a poll.
Although the bill does not specify a date or question for a referendum, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to hold one in 2020 and that she will be asking the UK Government for legal permission "before the end of this year".
There have been calls by opponents of a referendum to amend aspects of the bill, particularly on whether the Electoral Commission should have a say on the format of the question put to voters.
Ministers have previously dismissed those calls and the bill, tabled by Cabinet Secretary for Constitutional Relations Michael Russell, is expected to pass with the help of the Scottish Greens.
The topic of an independence referendum has featured prominantly in the general election campaign so far.
The SNP has said it plans to put independence "at the heart" of its campaign.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to use a visit to Scotland to highlight his opposition to granting an independence referendum.
Johnson told an audience on Wednesday night: "I will never give up on our incredible union."
Commenting on Johnson's campaign in Scotland, Studgeon said: “A vote for the SNP is a vote to escape Brexit and to put Scotland's future in Scotland's hands – not Boris Johnson's.
“The SNP are the main challengers in every single Tory seat in Scotland, and we will do our bit in trying to ensure his time in Downing Street has already come to an end."
Urging parlimantarians to back the bill so that Scotland maintains the "gold standard" of democratic engagement, Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell said: “Scotland’s future must be in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s – and at this election by voting SNP the people of Scotland can escape Brexit and choose a better future with independence.
“The decision on whether to offer that choice should be made by the Scottish Parliament - not Westminster.
“Today MSPs have the opportunity to back the general principles of a bill that will set the rules for referendum voting and campaigning.
“In the 2016 Brexit vote, people in Scotland decided overwhelmingly to remain but we’ve been subject to three years of Brexit chaos with many more if the Tories get their way. That 2016 referendum was also marred by rule-breaking.
“Today I will set out how the bill before the Scottish Parliament will prevent rule-breaking and maintain the democratic gold standard.
“There is a cast-iron mandate to hold a referendum on whether to become an independent country and there should be no attempt by Westminster to veto the right of people in Scotland to decide their own future.”