PMQs: Johnson clashes with Blackford on Scottish independence
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The Scottish First Minister is expected to strengthen a pledge to continue bringing forward a second independence referendum as Scotland nears a “position of safety” with the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael Russell, director of the party’s independence unit tasked with bringing forward a second vote, hinted separation would be a focus as Scotland “turns to recovery”.
He added: “After what we have all been through, that recovery must ensure that we really do build back better – for our families, our communities, and our country.
“And to do that we must set the right agenda – one made in Scotland for Scotland, not imposed on us by Boris Johnson and a UK government we never voted for and which shares neither our ambitions nor our values.”
Ms Sturgeon is to set out her legislative programme for the year on August 31 as Holyrood returns from recess and it is expected to include a strategy that will see civil servants progress on work from a draft referendum bill.
An SNP source said: “IndyRef2 will become more prominent than ever before as Scotland emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s getting towards Scotland’s time to decide.”
The SNP-led Scottish Government published an independence referendum Bill in March to give people in Scotland the “right to decide their future once the current health crisis is over.”
However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a second referendum on independence is at the bottom of Boris Johnson’s agenda.
But Mr Russell argued the Prime Minister had no “interest in making Scotland a more equal and fairer place”.
He claimed Mr Johnson often “gets lots of other things wrong too” claiming UK Ministers had a “complete lack of leadership on the climate emergency.”
He continued: “The people of Scotland need – and will have – their say on Scotland’s future.
“Scotland’s right to decide was resoundingly voted for in May’s election – and we shall press ahead with our plans to exercise that mandate when it is safe to do so.
“Significantly, more and more people are coming round to share our view that democracy must prevail.”
Whilst Ms Sturgeon has said a vote will not take place until 2023, the SNP’s push for separation will begin next month at the September party conference.
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The conference includes a series of proposals for another vote and policies for a separate Scotland.
Motions put forward include preparing for an independence campaign that puts “recovery at its heart” and bringing forward a draft referendum bill at the earliest opportunity.
It comes as the party has come under pressure from some members in recent weeks following weeks of silence since the election over a second vote.
Alex Salmond’s Alba Party is also expected to put pressure on the Scottish Government to start negotiations with the Prime Minister on achieving independence at it’s party conference next month.
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The draft conference agenda reveals a motion titled “Independence Convention” which claims independence is an “immediate priority” for the Scottish people.
It added: “Alba believes that Scottish independence is an overwhelming and immediate priority for the people of Scotland and notes with growing concern the failure of the Scottish Government to implement successive electoral mandates from the Scottish people to progress this aim.
“Alba demands that the Scottish Parliament instruct the Government to commence independence negotiations with Westminster.”
But Liz Smith MSP, Scottish Conservative Finance spokesperson, added: “As we recover from the pandemic, the last thing Scotland needs is another divisive independence referendum.
“All of the focus must be on economic stability and rebuilding Scotland.
“The SNP must ditch their push for indyref2 and put 100 percent of the government’s attention towards protecting Scottish jobs and remobilising our NHS.”
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