Nicola Sturgeon launches renewed call for independence
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said her government could seek a second independence referendum without getting a Section 30 order from the UK Government.
Making a statement at Bute House in Edinburgh, Sturgeon said her government would "forge a way forward - if necessary - without a Section 30 order".
Section 30, part of the Scotland Act, allows Holyrood to legislate in areas normally reserved to Westminster. A Section 30 was granted by the UK Government before the 2014 referendum.
However, the first minister said her government would seek to secure a second referendum in a "lawful manner".
She told journalists she had yet to seek a Section 30, but said: “I will set out a lawful way forward without a Section 30, if that is what’s required.”
She called the UK Government and Prime Minister Boris Johnson "democracy-denying".
And she said she planned to give a "significant update" to the Scottish Parliament soon on the way forward.
In a statement, she said: "Today, Scotland – like countries across the world – faces significant challenges. But we also have huge advantages and immense potential. The refreshed case for independence is about how we equip ourselves to navigate the challenges and fulfil that potential, now and in future.
“In their day to day lives, people across Scotland are suffering the impacts of the soaring cost of living, low growth and increasing inequality, constrained public finances and the many implications of a Brexit we did not vote for. These problems have all been made worse or, most obviously in the case of Brexit, directly caused by the fact we are not independent.
“So at this critical juncture we face a fundamental question. Do we stay tied to a UK economic model that consigns us to relatively poor economic and social outcomes which are likely to get worse, not better, outside the EU? Or do we lift our eyes, with hope and optimism, and take inspiration from comparable countries across Europe?
“Comparable neighbouring countries with different characteristics. Countries that, in many cases, lack the abundance of resources that Scotland is blessed with. But all of them independent and, as we show today, wealthier and fairer than the UK.
“Today’s paper – and those that will follow in the weeks and months ahead – is about substance. That is what really matters. The strength of the substantive case will determine the decision people reach when the choice is offered – as it will be – and it is time now to set out and debate that case.
“After everything that has happened it is time to set out a different and better vision. It is time to talk about making Scotland wealthier and fairer. It is time to talk about independence – and then to make the choice.”
The first minister will in the coming weeks set out a series of papers on currency / fiscal position; pensions / social security; EU membership / trade; defence / security.
“We will not shy away from tough questions,” she said.
“Scotland deserves the very best and independence is how we secure that.”
Responding to the speech, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “Today’s speech from Nicola Sturgeon was a disappointing return to the politics of the past – the politics of strife and division.
“Thousands of Scots are being forced to choose between heating and eating and even more are facing sharp bill rises; our NHS is in disarray with lives being lost as a result and our transport infrastructure is falling apart before our eyes.
“For Nicola Sturgeon to turn her back on the issues facing the people of Scotland and decide at this point to focus on her own obsession is a sad example of how out of touch this government are.”
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said: “Scotland’s national energy is being wasted on the wrong priorities.
“We face a clear choice now between two futures in the crucial years after Covid. We can focus on rebuilding Scotland - or dividing Scotland.
“Pushing for another divisive referendum -possibly even an illegal wildcat referendum- is the wrong priority - at the worst possible time."
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The First Minister must be wired to the moon if she thinks that breaking up the UK is the priority for people.
“Nicola Sturgeon has ditched promises to close the attainment gap, to deliver islanders ferries, to bring down NHS waiting lists. Breaking up the UK is the only thing left and the only thing they really care about.
“This was a lesson in cherry picking and jam tomorrow while ignoring everything else.”