Nicola Sturgeon: Next UK election will be ‘de facto referendum’
The SNP will head into the new UK general election on the basis of it being a “de facto referendum” on Scottish independence, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister was speaking after the Supreme Court this morning ruled the Scottish Parliament could not legislate for a second independence referendum without agreement from the UK Government.
The government had hoped to be able to hold a fresh vote on 19 October 2023.
That can no longer happen without permission from the UK Government and Sturgeon urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to reconsider the current position.
Accusing the UK Government of “outright democracy denial”, she said today’s ruling had proven that “the notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership of nations, if it ever was a reality, is no longer a reality.”
The First Minister said while a referendum would be the “best way” to achieve independence, “we must, and we will, find another democratic lawful and constitutional means by which the Scottish people can express their will.”
“In my view that can only be an election,” she added.
The SNP leader confirmed her party would hold a special conference early in the new year to discuss the detail of this, such as what the manifesto would look like, whether it would include other pro-independence parties and steps to achieving independence if the SNP is successful in the election.
The party will also “launch and mobilise a major campaign in defence of Scottish democracy,” she said.
Speaking to journalists in a city centre hotel with a view of Edinburgh Castle in the background, Sturgeon said she would continue to be leader of her party “for a long time”.
Asked whether she would resign if her party fared poorly in a “de facto referendum”, she said: “It’s not that long ago that you [the media] were all predicting my imminent resignation. I think if I had listened to your predictions I wouldn’t be standing here.
“You’re now predicting that I will still be first minister in 2024 and at the end of it have a de facto referendum and then you’ll be asking me [if I will resign].”
Sturgeon did not rule out yet another de facto referendum in the future. She said: “Although I don’t plan to demit office anytime soon, I am not going to be first minister forever. We can probably agree on that. I can’t tie the hands of governments and first ministers that come after me, and nor do I solely have the right to decide when Scotland can stop talking about or wanting to be independent.”