Boris stands FIRM as Blackford orders PM to ‘respect’ will of Scots – Indy showdown looms

Sturgeon says blocking IndyRef2 would be ‘absurd’

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The Prime Minister is fighting to save the Union and has told the SNP to focus on the economic recovery from coronavirus. It comes as Nicola Sturgeon’s party celebrates a fourth successive victory in the Scottish Parliament elections, a result Mr Blackford says gives a “cast iron mandate for a post pandemic independence referendum”.

The SNP won 64 seats in Holyrood, but fell one short of an outright majority.

Scots also elected eight Green MSPs to the Scottish parliament, which means 72 of the 129 members are in favour of breaking up the UK.

The First Minister of Scotland has already told Mr Johnson during a phone call on Sunday that a second independence referendum is “now a matter of when – not if”.

Scots rejected independence in the 2014 referendum and the SNP needs permission from Westminster to hold a second vote.

But, Downing Street has again played down the prospects of one being sanctioned.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Throughout the recent elections all party leaders across the UK said Covid recovery should be our shared priority and that’s what the UK Government is going to be focusing on.”

The Queen will deliver a speech later today to officially mark the state opening of parliament.

The 95-year-old will outline the upcoming agenda for Her Majesty’s Government.

Ahead of the address, Mr Blackford has said, “England and Scotland are on different political paths”.

The SNP chief added Scots “voted for a strong, fair, and equal recovery, instead of the long-term damage of Tory cuts, Brexit and power grabs”.

He said: “Boris Johnson must respect the will of the Scottish people – who voted overwhelmingly to re-elect the SNP with a cast-iron mandate for a post-pandemic independence referendum.

“Last week’s election results in both countries show England and Scotland are on different political paths. We have two governments and Parliament’s with different priorities.

“When it comes to recovery, Scotland voted for a parliament that will back transformative policies to create a fairer society but instead the Tories are repeating the same damaging mistakes of the last economic crisis, by imposing austerity cuts, a hard Brexit, a public sector pay freeze and slashing Universal Credit – pushing millions of people into poverty.

“People in Scotland roundly rejected the Tories and voted for a strong, fair, and equal recovery – instead of the long-term damage of Tory cuts, Brexit and power grabs.

“If we are to deliver an investment-led recovery and the long-term fundamental changes needed to tackle inequality and build a fairer society, Scotland needs the full powers of an independent country.


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“Once this crisis is over there will be a referendum, so that Scotland’s future is in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s. The Tories must not stand in the way of democracy.”

The Prime Minister held talks with the leaders of the devolved administrations and discussed working more closely as a Union to bounce back from the pandemic.

After the results of the Holyrood election were announced, Mr Johnson told the Telegraph a second independence referendum in the current climate is “irresponsible and reckless”.

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Ms Sturgeon has vowed to hold another vote after the coronavirus pandemic and the SNP manifesto says it should happen by 2023.

Mr Johnson was asked about IndyRef2 at a coronavirus briefing in Downing Street on Monday evening and said the priority is to “build back better together”.

He said: “I had good conversations with all the heads of the devolved administrations and I can tell you everybody was resolved that the number one priority for the whole of the UK was to build back better, come out of the coronavirus pandemic and build back better together.”
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