Question of independence dominates FMQs
Scottish Government plans to hold an independence referendum next year dominated First Minister’s Questions this week, with the Nicola Sturgeon and opposition parties clashing over the SNP’s track record in government.
Scottish Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross challenged Sturgeon on whether her government’s issues with ferries, the attainment gap, NHS waiting lists and court backlogs should “play second fiddle to another divisive independence referendum”.
To which Sturgeon replied: “The case for independence is not distinct or separate from the big challenges that Scotland is facing right now; instead, independence is part of the solution to those challenges. It’s about how we equip ourselves better as a country to meet our potential.
“It is not the distraction that Douglas Ross wants to pretend it is; instead it presents an alternative to a failing UK system.”
Ross said: “What a depressing answer from the First Minister, never once responding to the points about education, about or NHS, or the justice system. Never once responding to these points which are pressing for people across Scotland, which will play second fiddle to a second independence referendum.”
He asked: “Why doesn’t Scotland’s NHS deserve your full attention, right now?”
Sturgeon pointed to her government’s newly published paper on independence, which compares the UK’s performance on economic factors to other “comparable” western European countries.
The First Minister said the paper shows those countries are “wealthier, they are fairer, they have better wellbeing”, and added that “they make the case for Scotland becoming an independent country”.
Ross closed the exchange by suggesting Scotland’s attainment gap has been “put on the back burner” while the SNP government focuses on independence.