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Scottish Government halts planning for independence referendum

Holyrood

Scottish Government halts planning for independence referendum

Constitution Secretary Mike Russell confirmed the decision in a letter to Michael Gove in which he also called on the UK government to postpone further talks on an EU trade deal for six months

The Scottish government has "paused" plans to hold a second independence referendum this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Constitution Secretary Mike Russell confirmed the decision in a letter to Michael Gove in which he also called on the UK government to postpone further talks on an EU trade deal for six months.

Russell said the SNP is stopping preparations to “allow us to focus all available resource on current and future demands in what is an unprecedented set of circumstances”.

There has been 227 positive tests for Covid-19 in Scotland so far.

Russell wrote: “Because of the crisis, the Scottish Government has paused work on preparing for an independence referendum this year. 

"We have also written to the Electoral Commission to make clear we do not expect it to undertake testing of a referendum question until public health circumstances permit such activity (while also urging the commission to reject the UK Government’s objections to testing). 

“That will allow us to focus all available resource on current and future demands in what is an unprecedented set of circumstances. 

“It follows from this that a referendum will not take place this year.”

The Scottish Conservatives’ shadow constitution secretary Murdo Fraser said: “This is very welcome news and will come as a relief to workers and businesses alike.

“Since the scale of this outbreak became clear, it’s been necessary for all governments and political parties to work together.

“This announcement from Mike Russell is very much in keeping with that spirit.

“Now we can really dedicate all our efforts to enduring this crisis, supporting those who will be worst hit, and ensure we can come out the other side looking forward to a bright future.”

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