Scottish Tory leader vows to stop ‘reckless’ SNP independence bid ‘in their tracks’

Sturgeon: IndyRef2 calls ‘outrageous’ says Miklinski

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SNP Constitution Secretary Mike Russell has confirmed the party will put forward a draft bill for Scottish independence referendum before end of parliament. The SNP has already outlined an 11-point plan to break up the UK if the party wins a majority at the Holyrood elections in May.

The plan sets how a vote can take place even if a Section 30 order – used in the 2014 referendum – is refused by Boris Johnson.

Mr Ross has condemned the timing to the independence bid as the UK continues to battle coronavirus.

The Scottish Tory leader said: “It is so reckless that the SNP are ramping up plans for another divisive independence referendum at this time.

“The SNP’s threat of an illegal referendum is a distraction that risks our handling of the pandemic and will hold back our economic recovery.

“It is beyond belief that Mike Russell thinks that this should be the priority when lives and livelihoods are still threatened.”

In a post on Twitter, Mr Ross added: “The SNP will always prioritise another referendum over our vaccine rollout, schools and jobs.

“There is only one way to stop them in their tracks and get 100% focus back onto the recovery. A vote for @scottories – the only party strong enough to stand up to the SNP.”

The Scottish Government’s Programme for 2020/21 says the bill will outline the “terms of a future referendum clearly and unambiguously” before the end of this parliament.

It adds a referendum question will be considered alongside the Electoral Commission and adds the timescale will be “taking account of the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Mr Russell told the Sunday National: “We said we would publish it before the Parliament rose and we will.

“It is a very simple Bill, there is nothing complicated about it.

“The key point is we have said we will put it in front of the people of Scotland at an election and they will have the decision on it.

“It is proceeding according to what we said, it is a simple short Bill and people will have the chance to then decide what they want to do – that is democracy.”

Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly said IndyRef2 will only take place if the SNP wins a majority in the Scottish parliament and when it is safe to do so after the pandemic.

The First Minister has also said the party aims to hold a legal referendum amid the prospect of a Catalonia-style wildcat vote.

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Speaking on the BBC Andrew Marr show last month, she said: “I want to have a legal referendum. That’s what I’m going to seek the authority of the Scottish people for in May.

“If they give me that authority, that’s what I intend to do – have a legal referendum, give people in Scotland the right to choose.

“That’s democracy. It’s not about what I want or what Boris Johnson wants.”

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