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First Minister sets out ‘democratic case’ for new Scottish independence vote

Nicola Sturgeon has published a new document, Scotland’s Right To Choose, as she requests a transfer of powers to hold a second referendum.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sets out the case for a second referendum on Scottish independence (Neil Hanna/PA)
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sets out the case for a second referendum on Scottish independence (Neil Hanna/PA)

By Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter

Nicola Sturgeon has published the “democratic case” for a new independence referendum as the Scottish Government requested the powers to hold another vote.

Speaking from Bute House, her official residence in Edinburgh, the First Minister said it is inevitable a second ballot on the constitution will be held.

She published Scotland’s Right to Choose on Thursday, which she said “lays out the democratic case” for a new referendum.

The First Minister issued a call to Westminster to engage with the Scottish Government on the proposals.

Michael Gove, the Prime Minister’s defacto deputy, said the Scottish Government should be focused on the “issues that really matter to people –  improving the NHS, fighting crime and helping to improve education”.

He said: “The Scottish Government have a lot on their plate. My friends and family in Scotland want them to concentrate on improving the NHS, making sure Scottish schools are better.

“I want to work with the Scottish Government to make sure that Scottish people’s lives are better.”

But Ms Sturgeon insisted the general election last week, in which her party won 47 of Scotland’s 59 seats, was another indication of support for a referendum.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly rejected the idea of another referendum, but Ms Sturgeon said he pledged to engage seriously with the Scottish Government’s proposals in a phone call on Friday night.

She said: “It is a fundamental democratic principle that decisions on Scotland’s constitutional future should rest with the people who live here.

“As this document lays out, the Scottish Government has a clear democratic mandate to offer people a choice on that future in an independence referendum, and the UK Government has a democratic duty to recognise that.

“Last week’s general election has only strengthened that mandate.

“We are therefore today calling for the UK Government to negotiate and agree the transfer of power that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum on independence.

“Together with the constitutional and democratic case for that transfer of power, we are also publishing the draft legislation that would give effect to it.”

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The document claims the Scottish Government has a mandate from previous elections for another vote on Scotland’s future (Neil Hanna/PA)

Speaking to journalists after her speech, Ms Sturgeon said she was in the process of sending a Section 30 order – which will devolve powers to Scotland to allow another vote to be held.

But she said she expects a “flat no” from the UK Government on the issue.

She said: “Everybody in Scotland knows, the dogs on the street know there’s going to be an independence referendum.

“Because you cannot stand in the way of the right of the Scottish people to choose their own future.

“I think the decision for the Tories is do they willingly and in a reasonable fashion … accept that or do they seek to block that?

“Which frankly makes my job easier, in convincing people that the right future for Scotland is to be independent.”

We live in a democracy and ultimately democracy must and will prevail Nicola Sturgeon

Ms Sturgeon said she is often faced with the question of what she would do if Boris Johnson rejects the request.

She said: “The document we are publishing today turns the question on its head.

“It is for the Prime Minister to defend why he believes the UK is not a voluntary union of equal nations.

“It is for him to set out why he does not believe people in Scotland have the right to self-determination.

“And it is for the Prime Minister to explain why he believes it is acceptable to ignore election after election in Scotland and to override a democratic mandate stronger than the one he claims for his Brexit deal.

“We live in a democracy and ultimately democracy must and will prevail.”

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Jackson Carlaw claimed the First Minister would continue to hold referendums if she fails to win independence (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw said there could be a risk of repeated referendums if this one is granted.

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear again if she doesn’t win indyref2, it’ll be straight onto indyref3 and indyref4.

“She wants to trap Scotland in a neverendum when most people simply want to move on.”

Speaking to reporters, Ms Sturgeon said she would not go for another referendum if a second one failed to secure independence but did not rule out what “future generations may do”.

Mr Carlaw said: “Now, more than ever, Scotland needs a Government that cares about public services, jobs and the economy.

“Instead, it’s got an SNP First Minister who’s only serious about breaking up the country.”

Scottish Greens leader Patrick Harvie said if the request is turned down by Westminster, support for independence will only increase.

He said: “If Boris Johnson ignores that mandate, as he is threatening to do, it will only strengthen the case for Scotland to break ties with a flawed democracy that denies us a say over our future.

“It’s only right that Scotland gets the option to decide a different future.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie told the First Minister to “stop neglecting” public services in favour of independence.

PA

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