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by Kirsteen Paterson
23 June 2022
Scottish independence: Alister Jack dismisses Nicola Sturgeon's indyref2 'wheeze'

Scottish independence: Alister Jack dismisses Nicola Sturgeon's indyref2 'wheeze'

Nicola Sturgeon's independence referendum push is a "wheeze" and the constitution is "very clearly" reserved, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has said.

The First Minister is set to reveal her "route map" to a referendum on the constitution to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday. It is expected that this will include details about how her government will seek to hold such a ballot in October 2023, even without the formal consent of the UK Government.

A Section 30 order was granted by the prime minister to allow the 2014 referendum to proceed in a legal manner. Sturgeon has said that the Scottish Government is considering other means in which to hold a legal vote, but has not yet disclosed what these are.

Speaking at the Royal Highland Show, Jack told reporters: "I don't know what wheeze she's going to come up with on Tuesday, but I'm very clear that the constitution, rather like Trident and our nuclear deterrent, these matters are reserved very clearly in the 1998 Scotland Act. They're reserved to the Westminster government."

Sturgeon has described the potential withholding of consent by Downing Street as amongst "challenges to navigate through".

She launched a "scene-setter" paper at Bute House last week to build the case for a Yes majority, with several more to follow.

Jack said "now is not the time" for another referendum and his government is "not in the position of having another" such ballot.

He went on: "We've seen it all before. There was nothing new there, there may be new things to come forward, but our position is not to get engaged in constitutional wrangling with the Scottish Government. We want to focus on the people's priorities; on inflation rising, on the cost-of-living challenge, on the war in Ukraine.

"Those are the issues we would like to focus on and we would like the Scottish Government to focus on their issues - failing schools, the backog in the NHS or on Covid."

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