Nicola Sturgeon to push for indyref2 before 2021
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced the Scottish Government will push for another Scottish independence referendum before the next Holyrood election in 2021.
In a statement to MSPs, Sturgeon said the move will come alongside cross-party talks and a “citizens’ assembly” on alternatives to a “failed and damaging status quo”.
The UK Government has already said it will not grant a section 30 order which gives the Scottish parliament the ability to hold the vote, but Sturgeon said the position was “unsustainable”.
A pledge to hold a referendum was in the SNP manifesto in 2016 and the Scottish Parliament voted to seek permission for a referendum in 2017. Theresa May refused the request, claiming “now is not the time”.
In her statement, Sturgeon said the Scottish Government had “done everything possible” to avert damage from Brexit.
“It is now time for this Parliament, for all the parties represented here, to take charge,” she said.
“A choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered in the lifetime of this parliament.
“I can confirm that the Scottish government will act to ensure that the option of giving people a choice on independence later in this term of parliament is progressed.”
However, Sturgeon also acknowledged many Scots do not support independence.
“To those who believe that independence is not the right change for Scotland, I say this: Bring forward your own proposals to equip our parliament with the powers we need to better protect and advance our interests,” she said.
Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw called the statement “absurd”.
He said: “Whatever the First Minister says about being ‘inclusive’, her statement is inherently divisive.
“Astonishingly, the way Nicola Sturgeon thinks we can come together is for Scotland to be plunged into another divisive referendum within the next 18 months.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the speech was timed to coincide with SNP conference this weekend.
“The chaos of Brexit throws into sharp relief the challenges of leaving a political and economic union,” he said.
“Leaving the UK would lead to unprecedented austerity for Scotland’s public services.”
Scottish Greens, who support impendence, welcomed the announcement.
The party’s parliamentary co-leader Alison Johnstone said: “Support for independence grew over the course of the last referendum in part due to the breadth of inspiring, positive visions of what our nation could be.
“The vision currently being considered by the SNP looks more like the failed economic model of the UK, a vision which has led to cuts to public services and increasing child poverty, than the bold vision for independence the Greens campaigned for and believe in.”
The Citizens’ Assembly proposal would to bring together a representative cross-section of Scottish society to look at devolution alternatives under an independent chair.