SNP divided: Cracks emerge in Sturgeon’s party over IndyRef2 plot to bypass Boris Johnson
Ms Sturgeon has not set an exact deadline on when she wants to pursue a second Scottish independence vote but Cllr Chris McEleney together with Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil are pushing for a back up “Plan B” to be put in motion this year. The pair have now published a paper demanding the SNP’s National Executive Committee and party leaders agree to a Holyrood vote on the issue without the consent of Westminster if the SNP win in Scottish Parliament elections in May.
This is if Boris Johnson refuses to transfer referendum powers from Westminster to Edinburgh in the form of a section 30 order in just over 10 weeks.
The paper said: “A record number of electors voted for the SNP in the Constituency ballots in the 2016 Scottish Parliament Elections.
“The Scottish Government must issue a deadline of 31st March 2021 to the UK Government, in advance of the Scottish General Election, to agree to a Section 30 request to amend schedule 5 of the Scotland Act, as per the Edinburgh Agreement of 2012.
“In the event that the UK Government do not agree to the above then Pro-Independence Parties should unambiguously state that in the event of a Pro-Independence Majority of MSPs being elected to the Scots Parliament in the Scottish General Election, there will be a referendum on Scottish Independence – as sanctioned by the Scottish Parliament, which will be given popular legitimacy by the Scottish electorate via the mandate given in the 2021 Holyrood elections.
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“The newly formed Pro-Independence Scottish Government should then begin preparations to hold a Referendum – without the requirement of seeking the approval of the UK Government via a Section 30 Order – on Scottish Independence in the early part of the new parliament.”
The paper further claimed: “By the date of the Scottish Parliament election in May 2021, the UK Government will have sustained opposition to agreeing to a referendum on Scottish independence after several electoral mandates having been secured since 2016 to hold such a referendum.”
It continues: “A referendum deemed lawful by Scotland’s Lord Advocate, and sanctioned by Scotland’s Parliament as per the mandate of the Scottish people, will be a competent and lawful referendum.”
The Scottish Government has repeatedly said a pro-independence majority in Holyrood after May’s elections should mean Boris Johnson’s Government should permit another independence referendum.
However, the Prime Minister repeatedly argued the first referendum in 2014 was a once in a generation vote and so far dismissed claims for another.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she does back a “Plan B” approach and insisted a Referendum Bill which is currently being developed would set out the terms of a future vote.
But she has made clear independence campaigning was on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Senior leaders said it was more likely a vote would take place during a later period during the next legislative session of Holyrood.
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Angus Robertson, former SNP leader at Westminster and SNP Candidate for Edinburgh Central said a vote should take place during the term of the Scottish Parliament after May’s election but not during 2021.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said independence is an “essential priority” for Scotland’s recovery from coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Kirsten Oswald, the SNP’s deputy Westminster leader also described another vote as “essential”.
It comes as SNP deputy leader Keith Brown is due to hold the SNP National Assembly next week, an influential party panel which will consider “tactics and strategy” on the route to independence.
An SNP source said: “We will set out the steps of a future independence referendum in due course.”
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