Nicola Sturgeon today pushed ahead with her plan to split the UK as she insisted Scots have the ‘right’ to choose their own future in a second independence referendum.
The First Minister called Scotland a ‘nation on the brink of making history’ as she said she hopes a ballot could be held in the early part of the next term of the Scottish Parliament.
Though Boris Johnson has vetoed calls for a fresh vote on the issue, the SNP will use the campaign to step up their demands for another referendum – six years after a majority voted to stay in the Union.
Her comments on unity came after SNP MP Joanna Cherry used an interview with the Times newspaper to hit out at the ‘cult of leader’ in the party, insisting it is damaging to ‘put all your faith on one person’.
Recent opinion polls have suggested that a majority of Scots now support the country becoming independent.
The pro-Union cause took a hit last week after Mr Johnson told MPs over Zoom that devolution was a ‘disaster’ and Tony Blair’s biggest mistake.
Addressing the SNP annual conference today, Ms Sturgeon, told party activists that ‘the people of Scotland have the right to choose their future’.
The First Minister thundered: ‘Scotland is now a nation on the brink of making history. Independence is in clear sight – and if we show unity of purpose, humility and hard work, I have never been so certain that we will deliver it.’
Nicola Sturgeon today pushed ahead with her plan to split the UK as she insisted Scots have the ‘right’ to choose their own future in a second independence referendum
SNP leader Ms Sturgeon said that, in order to win independence, the party must ‘reach out to all of Scotland like never before’.
Speaking at the start of the online event, she said: ‘Let us demonstrate, with cool heads and patient persuasion, that Scotland is ready to take its place in the global family of independent nations.’
Support for independence has risen to become the ‘sustained and majority view in public opinion this year,’ Ms Sturgeon said.
And she stressed that, while the ‘primary focus’ must currently be on tackling the coronavirus pandemic, ‘Scotland must also be ready for what comes next’.
She told the conference that Covid-19 had ‘taken thousands of lives’ and ‘upended our society’, with businesses and the economy ‘severely’ damaged.
But she claimed that with independence Scotland could have a ‘resilient economy, with job creation and fairness at its heart’ and would be able to ‘protect and invest in public services like our NHS’.
Ms Sturgeon continued: ‘We can overcome poverty, inequality, and we lead the way in tackling the climate emergency.
‘The question for all of us as we look ahead to the election next May is this – who should be taking the decisions that shape our futures?
SNP MP Joanna Cherry used an interview with the Times newspaper to hit out at the ‘cult of leader’ in the party, insisting it is damaging to ‘put all your faith on one person’
An Ipsos Mori poll suggested that support for Scottish independence had hit 58 per cent
Independence campaigners immediately seized on the PM’s controversial comments
‘We know that it is the people who live here, wherever they come from, who can best harness Scotland’s immense human and natural resources to the benefit of everyone.’
Hitting out at Ms Sturgeon, Ms Cherry said a ‘more collegiate leadership’ style is needed, as she also criticised the ‘no debate mentality’ as being ‘really unhealthy’.
The MP said: ‘It’s an unfortunate tendency in modern political discourse, which I’ve labelled #nodebate.
‘It typifies a small minority in my party and has bled through from the debate about reform of the Gender Recognition Act, to include alternative plans for an independence referendum. I think it’s very unhealthy and I don’t think it represents the majority view in the party.’
Mr Johnson has been desperately engaged in damage limitation after he branded devolution a ‘disaster’ in a private Zoom meeting with MPs.
He had attacked Mr Blair for handing powers to Holyrood – comments which Ms Sturgeon said showed that the PM wanted to claw back control to Westminster.
Tories raged about Mr Johnson’s ‘loose language’, with Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross suggesting they could split from the party in England.
In a speech during the Scottish Tory virtual conference, the PM said ‘frankly’ now is not the time for ‘division or distraction about our national constitution’.
Though Boris Johnson has vetoed calls for a fresh vote on the issue, the SNP will use the campaign to step up their demands for another independence referendum
He also blasted what he called the SNP’s ‘abysmal record’ over 13 years of government, pointing to Scotland’s ‘plummeting education standards, low business confidence and the lowest satisfaction in public services ever’.
Nicola Sturgeon CANCELS Hogmanay: Scottish First Minister confirms the easing of Covid rules over Christmas will only last ‘a few days’ and won’t cover new year celebrations
Nicola Sturgeon cancelled Hogmanay as she confirmed that the easing of Covid rules over Christmas would not cover new year celebrations.
The First Minister announced it was ‘likely’ families will be able to form extended household bubbles for Christmas but warned rules could only be eased ‘for a few days.’
The famous new year merrymaking north of the border often continues throughout January 1 and can even run into January 2 – which is a Scottish bank holiday.
But Ms Sturgeon, a champion of Scots traditions, has insisted that a ‘sensible balance’ must be struck between stopping the disease and allowing families to come together.
Speaking at her daily briefing in Edinburgh, the SNP leader said: ‘We have to consider that the tradition of Hogmanay and New Year’s Day dinner is more established in Scotland than other parts of the UK, but I do not expect we will be announcing any particular relaxations over the New Year period.
‘And why not? Because we can’t do everything. Christmas is hard enough.’
Ms Sturgeon was previously accused of ‘shamelessly’ exploiting the coronavirus crisis to ‘flog’ Scottish independence after she wrote an article for a German paper.
In a piece for Germany’s Die Welt, the First Minister branded the UK’s tough line in Brexit trade talks ‘reckless’ and said she wanted Scotland to join the bloc if her campaign to split the union succeeds.
But critics lambasted the way Sturgeon was trying to ‘stir up division’ at a time of crisis, even though she previously promised to put her separatist ambitions on hold.
In the piece, which coincided with an EU Council summit, Sturgeon wrote that Brexit is a ‘direct threat to jobs, investment and living standards’ in Scotland and said the lack of a trade deal will ‘cripple’ the food and drink industry.
She said: ‘The fact the UK Government seems determined to push ahead with exiting the transition period with no deal in place would be a foolish move in normal times.
‘In the middle of a global pandemic it is utterly reckless.
‘That recklessness is exemplified by the UK Government’s proposed Internal Market Bill, which they admit would break international law and would renege on the Brexit treaty which Boris Johnson’s government agreed only last year.
‘The Bill also seeks to take powers away from the Scottish parliament, and the legislatures in Northern Ireland and Wales.’
She said the UK Government approach is ‘entirely counter to the Scottish Government’s vision for our country’.
She added: ‘Scotland has also contributed much to Europe through our people, our world-class universities, and now in particular the fight against climate change.
‘The Scottish Government believes the best future for our country is as an independent nation within the EU.
‘Some people may question my stated desire for solidarity with the desire for independence. However, in reality, the two go hand in hand. It is precisely because we have a UK Government that is determined to turn its back on cooperation, consensus and solidarity that Scotland needs an alternative way forward.
‘Unlike the EU, which is a partnership of equals where decisions require consent and often unanimity from members, the UK does not work like that and the wishes of Scotland can be ignored and overridden by Westminster.’
Labour MP Ian Murray, the Shadow Scottish Secretary, said: ‘This tells you everything about Nicola Sturgeon’s priorities.
In a piece for Germany’s Die Welt, Nicola Sturgeon branded the UK’s tough line in trade talks ‘reckless’ and said she wanted Scotland to join the bloc if her campaign to split the UK works
Critics lambasted the way Ms Sturgeon was trying to ‘stir up division’ with the article (pictured) at a time of crisis, even though she previously promised to put her separatist ambitions on hold
‘Scots will be shocked to see that while she tells the people of Scotland she is focused on the pandemic, she is writing about Scexit in an international newspaper and trying to stir up division.
‘How dare she talk about solidarity when she wants to tear apart the bonds of solidarity that exist within the UK?’
Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Dean Lockhart said: ‘In the middle of a global pandemic, Scottish people will be downright furious that Nicola Sturgeon thinks it’s a good use of her time to shamelessly flog Scottish independence in Germany. This is a distraction when lives and livelihoods are on the line.
‘We all, including the First Minister, need to be focused 100 per cent on managing this crisis. The last thing that Scotland needs right now is the division and uncertainty of another independence referendum.’
Pamela Nash, chief executive of the Scotland in Union campaign group, said: ‘Nicola Sturgeon’s arguments are wrongheaded.
‘She has no right to talk about ‘solidarity’ when her entire philosophy is about division. Instead of trying to break up the UK, the Scottish Government should be working within the UK to help lead us through this crisis.’
How the Union ended up on the brink of disaster after 400 years
James IV of Scotland becomes James I of England, after succeeding Elizabeth I. From this point on the nations have the same monarch.
England and Scotland are formally joined in the Act of Union.
The Scottish Nationalist Party is formed, calling for the creation of a separate Scottish assembly.
The SNP switches to demand secession from England, causing some senior figures to leave.
Following the discovery of lucratice oil fields in the North Sea, the SNP secures its first MP.
Tory PM Ted Heath responds to rising nationalism by committing to create a Scottish assembly. However, he does not follow through on the commitment.
James Callaghan’s Labour government passes the Scotland Act, which laid the ground for a Scottish assembly to be established.
However, a last-minute amendment made it a condition that at least 40 per cent of Scots back the idea in a referendum.
Although the subsequent vote endorsed the change, the threshold was not reached so devolution did not happen.
Tony Blair and New Labour win a landslide, sweeping the Conservatives out of Scottish seats and promising devolution.
Mr Blair hopes that giving more powers will halt the SNP’s independence momentum. He puts Donald Dewar in charge of creating the new structure and holding a referendum.
Mr Blair’s devolution push comes to fruition when Scots back creation of a Scottish assembly with tax-raising powers in a referendum.
The Scottish Parliament opens, with Alex Salmond saying it is a major step on the road to total separation.
The SNP secures a surprise overall majority at Holyrood, despite the electoral arrangements being designed to avoid one party being dominant. Mr Salmond declares he has a mandate for a referendum on independence.
September 18, 2014
After desperate efforts by unionists to head off a referendum, one is held. The SNP complains that the ‘Better Together’ campaign deploys ‘Project Fear’.
There are threats to stop Scotland using the pound after independence, cut it adrift from the Bank of England, and warnings that it will not be able to stay in the EU.
Tony Blair avoids campaigning for the union, in an acknowledgement of the depth of his unpopularity after the Iraq War.
Both Mr Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, who later takes over as SNP leader, say that the referendum will settle the issue ‘for a generation’.
The unionists emerge victorious by 55 per cent to 45 per cent. David Cameron later indiscreetly reveals that the Queen ‘purred down the phone’ at him when informed of the result.
June 23, 2016
The UK votes to leave the EU in a referendum, but Scotland votes strongly to retain ties with the bloc.
The SNP seizes on the Brexit vote to renew their push, saying circumstance have dramatically changed.
January 31, 2020
After years of bitter wrangling with Brussels and in Westminster, and Boris Johnson winning an 80 majority at a pre-Christmas election, the UK finally leaves the EU.
Nicola Sturgeon steps up her calls for an independence referendum vote to be held this year.
As the world is hammered by the coronavirus, Ms Sturgeon declares that she is putting her independence drive on hold.
The devolution settlement granted Scotland control of public health issues, and that power has been boosted by new pandemic emergency laws rushed through Westminster.
But critics accuse Ms Sturgeon of exploiting the crisis by refusing to move in step with the UK government.
She complains that Westminster is denying her funding, even though Scotland has received more than £7.5billion extra, on top of access to national schemes like furlough.
A poll puts support for independence at a new record high of 58 per cent, the latest in a series of surveys to show a surge in separatism.
The SNP says it wants to hold a referendum next year if – as polls suggest will happen – it wins a majority at Holyrood elections in May.
Mr Johnson insists he will not allow a new referendum, but there are fears that resisting will merely fuel separatist sentiment.