Nicola Sturgeon today claimed she has an ‘unarguable mandate’ to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence as she accused Boris Johnson of lacking ‘basic humanity’.
The SNP leader said her party’s victory at the Holyrood elections in May means she has the right to ‘implement the manifesto we put to before the country’ which included a fresh ballot on splitting from the UK.
She said she wants to hold the re-run of the 2014 referendum ‘Covid permitting, by the end of 2023’.
The First Minister said she would seek ‘co-operation, not confrontation’ with the UK Government as she seeks to secure a vote.
A formal vote can only take place if it is given the green light by Mr Johnson but he has made clear he is not in favour of holding another ballot.
Ms Sturgeon risked worsening her war of words with the Prime Minister as she attacked the Government over its decision to remove a £20 a week uplift to the value of Universal Credit.
She said going ahead with the cut next month would show a ‘lack of care’ for struggling families and would ‘expose an absence of basic humanity’.
Ms Sturgeon’s fresh push for an independence referendum comes despite polls suggesting most Scots don’t want one any time soon.
Polls have shown Scots are divided down the middle on whether to leave the union, but backing for independence has dropped sharply from the height of the pandemic.
A survey last week found just 31 per cent support a vote on the crucial issue in the next two years.
Nicola Sturgeon (pictured writing her conference speech) will today demand Boris Johnson ‘cooperates’ in holding another independence referendum – despite polls suggesting most Scots don’t want one any time soon
Ms Sturgeon and Mr Johnson are engaged in a battle of wills over the SNP’s ambitions, with the previous referendum in 2014 having been billed as ‘once in a generation’
Polls have shown Scots are divided down the middle on whether to leave the union, but backing for independence has dropped sharply from the height of the pandemic
Delivering the closing speech of the SNP conference, she said: ‘My approach to government and to politics will be, as far as possible, co-operation not confrontation.
‘The experience of the pandemic and the challenges we face as a result reinforces my view that this is the right approach.
‘So it is in that spirit of co-operation that I hope the Scottish and UK governments can reach agreement – as we did in 2014 – to allow the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland to be heard and respected.
‘But, this much is clear: democracy must – and will – prevail.’
She will add: ‘The United Kingdom is after all a voluntary union of nations.
‘Until recently no-one seriously challenged the right of the people in Scotland to choose whether or not they wished to become independent.
‘Frankly it is not up to a Westminster government which has just six MPs in Scotland to decide our future without the consent of the people who live here.
‘As an independent country, co-operation between Scotland and our friends across the rest of the UK will continue, but it will be on a better basis: Scotland will be an equal partner.’
During an interview with Sky News yesterday, it was suggested to Ms Sturgeon that rather than being concerned about Covid-19, she was waiting until it was politically advantageous.
She admitted that any politician would ‘factor those kind of judgments into those decisions’, adding: ‘I am very confident that when this question is next to put people in Scotland will vote yes.’
She added: ‘My primary consideration is to do what’s right for the country, when is it right.’
A recent Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times suggested that 48 per cent of Scots supported leaving the UK
The SNP conference has backed a call for another independence referendum at the ‘earliest’ possible moment after the Covid crisis.
The chief executive of the Scotland in Union campaign group, Pamela Nash, said: ‘This is Groundhog Day yet again at SNP conference, with nationalist politicians only interested in talking about the constitution.
‘The First Minister has clearly run out of ideas.
‘If Nicola Sturgeon was serious about believing in co-operation, she would focus on making devolution work and using Holyrood’s powers to build a recovery for everyone.
‘Instead, she is blindsided by her obsession with breaking up our country.
‘Scotland deserves better than a government that prioritises division ahead of devolution.’
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