Scottish independence: Struan Stevenson discusses open letter
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The Scottish First Minister has said she wants to hold a second vote before the end of 2023 but SNP MSP Michelle Thomson said it would be irresponsible to hold another vote before that time. The Falkirk East MSP told a pro-independence debate last night that COVID-19 recovery was a priority over pushing for a second vote.
Ms Thomson also stressed the Scottish Government should not make a section 30 request, the powers required to hold a referendum, immediately.
When asked if she thought there will be a referendum by 2023, Ms Thomson said: “I would incline to say no.
“In that respect, I think a general election – I think there will be one.
“I hear stories from Westminster, they’re already planning that, and guess what – the Tories are confident about winning.
“So there is a question, then, about what is the mandate for 2023. I think that’s a genuine question.”
Speaking at the Big Indy Debate in Edinburgh, Ms Thomson added: “I don’t believe for a minute that Boris is going to give us a referendum. It’s not in his interests to do so.
“Scotland is so asset rich, he’d be a numpty to let us go.”
Asked if the First Minister should request a Section 30 order “and get knocked back before 2023”, she concluded: “No, I don’t believe so, and the reason I don’t believe so is it goes back to the early ground-setting, in terms of we’re coming out of a pandemic.”
She made clear: “A lot of people are on their financial hunkers and they need support.
“People have lost friends and so on, and there’s going to be a period in time coming out of that, we’ve got a great deal of work to be done.”
Alex Salmond’s ALBA party today said Ms Thomson’s comments were extremely worrying for the Scottish independence movement.
Party General Secretary Chris McEleny said: “To ensure Scotland’s recovery from Coronavirus is in Scotland’s hands we must make Scottish independence an immediate priority, now, not wait until after the next Westminster election.”
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But Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “The reason there is unlikely to be a divisive second referendum by 2023 is because the people of Scotland don’t want one.
“It’s just a shame that Nicola Sturgeon won’t listen and keeps talking up the prospect of an unwanted contest when she and her Ministers should be focused on Covid recovery, the ambulance crisis, and the climate emergency.
“And the next UK General Election, when it comes, must not become a one-issue debate about the constitution – voters deserve better than that.”
Lib Dem Scottish Affairs spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain MP, added: “The different factions of the independence movement seem to be spending all their time squabbling among themselves.
“The average person will be baffled that they care more about the timing of another referendum than they do that pensioners are having to wait up to 40 hours for an ambulance.
“With the cost of living spiking and the NHS battening down the hatches for winter, surely there are more pressing things for people to worry about?”
A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “Even one SNP MSP is against Nicola Sturgeon’s disastrous plan to force another divisive referendum in the next two years.
“The last thing Scotland needs is another independence referendum.”
A second referendum is expected to be undertaken through the granting of a section 30 order from Westminster, however, the SNP have indicated this could be bypassed if Prime Minister Boris Johnson still refuses consent for a second vote.
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