Sturgeon savaged over 'dark' Ukraine-IndyRef parallel
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In response to evidence the First Minister and some of her cabinet’s senior ministers held talks with civil servants and advisers over the “approach to the development and delivery” of a new blueprint for Scottish independence while the NHS struggled to cope, one Conservative blamed Ms Sturgeon for allowing “scandal after scandal” to damage Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon is said to have held top-level meetings on November 24 last year and on January 14 and February 3 this year alongside Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson.
As per documents obtained by The Scottish Sun, the ministers discussed what “topics” to include in the blueprint.
No further details were provided because it could “impact the formulation of government policy”, the newspaper reported.
At the time of the meetings, an influx of patients challenged hospitals’ capacity and A&E waiting times reached record-highs.
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Recent data shows the number of patients waiting more than half a day for treatment reached 1,015 – a figure at odds with the party’s target for 95 percent of patients to be seen and discharged or admitted to hospital within four hours.
The figure, from the week to March 20, was at its highest since comparable records started in early 2015.
On the day of the first meeting, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf admitted it would take years for the NHS in Scotland to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Nicola Sturgeon’s eye is off the ball again.
“She’s not focused on the day job and that’s why we see scandal after scandal over ferries, drug deaths, school standards, A&E waiting times and just about everything else.”
Despite failing to secure her own majority in the May 2021 Holyrood election, Ms Sturgeon pledged to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence before the end of 2023.
In the first referendum, in 2014, voters in Scotland decided it was a no by 55-45 percent.
Today, polls show the support mark is at about 50 percent.
The Survation poll for Ballot Box Scotland, which recorded changes between early May 2021 and the end of March 2022, found support for independence has dropped one point to 42 percent while the proportion of those who don’t know what they would vote has grown by one point to 11 percent.
No change was identified among those who said they would go for a no – with 47 percent of the 1,002 respondents responding they would vote to stay in the UK.
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Excluding the undecided voters, some 53 percent said they would vote no at a second referendum for independence (+1 on last year but -2 on 2014) while 47 percent said they would vote no (-1 on 2021 but +2 on 2014).
The First Minister’s work on IndyRef2 has repeatedly sparked anger among opposition MSPs.
Last month, as it emerged Scottish taxpayers are contributing £700,000 to a “detailed prospectus” for independence commissioned by SNP, they called the SNP’s efforts on a UK split “a fool’s errand” and “outrageous”.
As reported by the Scottish Express, ministers ordered close to a dozen civil servants — one senior civil servant and 10 other officials in different pay bands — to work on the document for a second vote, a Scottish Government Freedom of Information (FOI) request showed.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, said: “To spend more than £500,000 on a fool’s errand of another prospectus for independence makes it less of a white paper and more of a white elephant.”
Donald Cameron MSP, Scottish Conservative Constitution spokesperson, added: “It’s outrageous that the SNP Government are devoting huge resources to their push for another divisive independence referendum when all their focus should be on Scotland’s pandemic recovery.”
Ahead of any vote, a new blueprint is to be published by officials. However, no timeline has been set for this.
Moreover, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s refusal to grant the Scottish Parliament the needed Section 30 order for a legally binding referendum to be held adds further question marks to Ms Sturgeon’s independence dream.
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