You blew it! Sturgeon warned Scottish independence dream was torn apart by Alex Salmond

Sturgeon wants to ‘go back to square one’ says expert

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Former Labour MP Tom Harris warned Mrs Sturgeon that even if the SNP wins the upcoming Holyrood elections, Prime Minister Boris Johnson won’t allow another mandate due to former party leader Mr Salmond’s own failed attempt in 2014. Mr Harris added no other country would allow a second referendum to take place only seven years later. It comes as he also blasted the SNP leader for making an “expensive mistake” by conducting an “unlawful” inquiry into Mr Salmond ahead of such a crucial vote.

He said: “A mandate alone cannot allow a nationalist administration to put the territorial integrity of the UK under a question mark for the second time in seven years – no other country in the world would stand for such constitutional anarchy.

“The nationalists had their chance, their one chance. And they failed. Of course they did – no serious psephologist predicted a win for Yes in 2014, because never at any point up until then had support for independence been in a majority, not once in the 300-year history of the Union.

“Salmond’s mistake was in calling for a referendum when even he must have realised that victory was a forlorn hope.

“Had that referendum never been called, perhaps the SNP’s dominance of Scottish politics would not have come to pass. But I suspect it would have anyway.

“Salmond could have kept his movement and his country on tenterhooks, slyly reassuring them that “Now is not the time – have patience, it will happen”, and infusing his followers with a pent-up, galvanising energy in the process.

“And when the time was right – in other words, when the polls showed either a slim majority for independence or at least a bridgeable gap with the status quo – then he could have pounced.

“But he did not. Perhaps he was just too impatient. For the master strategist of his movement, it was a disaster the scale of which will only become apparent when his successor asks for another go and is flatly rejected.”

Last year, Mr Salmond was cleared of 13 charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and attempted rape.

A Holyrood committee was then set up to investigate after he received a £512,000 payout following the Court of Session civil ruling that the Scottish Government’s handling of the complaints was “unlawful” and “tainted by apparent bias”.

Mr Salmond has also alleged the Scottish Government failed to release “crucial” documents that he says put him at a disadvantage in both his criminal trial and legal challenge against the Government’s investigation.

Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Harris added Mrs Sturgeon made a mistake over the inquiry.

He said: “The crux of the problem is the decision by Sturgeon’s administration to conduct an internal inquiry into allegations about Salmond’s behaviour when he was first minister, an inquiry which Salmond later proved in court was unlawful and should never have been conducted.

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“He was subsequently also acquitted of all criminal charges.

“It was an expensive mistake for Sturgeon, not just in monetary terms (although the generous taxpayers of Scotland happily picked up the £500,000 tab) but in political terms too: the ripples of that misjudgment continue to make waves in the form of an ongoing (though largely supine) investigation by a committee of MSPs into the affair.”

Ms Sturgeon previously hinted legal action could be taken if Mr Johnson blocks another independence vote.

She said: “That inalienable right of self-determination cannot, and will not, be subject to a Westminster veto.

“We are seeing across the Atlantic, what happens to those who try to hold back the tide of democracy. They get swept away.”

Shortly after the Brexit transition period ended at 11pm on December 31, she even told Europe that Scotland would be back soon if it become independent.

She wrote on Twitter: “Scotland will be back soon, Europe. Keep the light on.”

A spokesperson for Ms Sturgeon said: “The First Minister entirely rejects Mr Salmond’s claims about the ministerial code.

“The First Minister is concentrating on fighting the pandemic, stands by what she has said, and will address these matters in full when she appears at committee in the coming weeks.”

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