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by John Johnston
12 February 2020
SNP MP Angus MacNeil blasts Nicola Sturgeon for 'dithering' over indyref2


SNP MP Angus MacNeil blasts Nicola Sturgeon for 'dithering' over indyref2

A senior SNP MP has launched a scathing attack on Nicola Sturgeon as he accused her of "dithering" over a second Scottish independence referendum.

Angus MacNeil urged the Scottish Government to explore "all options" for securing independence, including holding a Catalonia-style 'wildcat' poll on leaving the UK.

His intervention comes after Sturgeon's latest request for the Scottish Parliament to have the legal power - known as a Section 30 order - to call a second ballot was rejected by Boris Johnson.

Speaking on Monday, the First Minister said she planned to continue pressing the case for "indyref2" with the Prime Minister, but said any route towards independence must be "legal and legitimate".

But writing in Holyrood's sister publication PoliticsHome, MacNeil accused his party leader of failing to explore every option for holding another referendum.

"All avenues of the consultative referendum should be explored now, and the Scottish Government should be decisive and not dither as it did over the Section 30 request," he wrote.

"That will be a hard sentence for many of my colleagues to read, but dither it was. Now the Scottish Government is dithering over establishing the legality of a Consultative Referendum and that is another hard fact to swallow."

And in a scathing review of his party's current stance, the Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP said exploring new "legal and democratic routes" would be more popular with SNP members and MPs than "sitting on our hands and crying, 'this is an unsustainable Westminster position' for a decade or more".

MacNeil, who chairs the influential Commons Trade Committee, said his party could also move away from "Salmond inspired" referendums if faced with continued resistance from Westminster, instead opting to give Scots "democratic expression at an election, either by majority of seats or votes."

He added: "After all Boris Johnson has his mandate for any Brexit on 43% of the vote and 56% of the seats. The SNP in Scotland has 45% of the vote and 82% of the seats, on Westminster’s own rules."

"Incidentally international recognition will follow recognition in Scotland by whatever means this is established."

His comments come after fellow SNP MP Joanna Cherry urged the Scottish Government to draft legislation for a consultative referendum in a bid to trigger a Supreme Court battle over the option.

The Edinburgh South West MP said: "I believe that Holyrood passing a bill to hold a referendum could be part of a multi-faceted strategy to move us away from the current impasse and stop the constant and unproductive talk about Section 30 orders and seeking 'permission' to act from Westminster.

"The balance of legal opinion is that we might well win any court challenge and I don’t believe that losing would set us back any further than where we are just now.

"Boris Johnson should be put on notice that we have options and we are not afraid to push forward."

Read the most recent article written by John Johnston - David Cameron denies Greensill lobbying was motivated by financial self-interest

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