Sorry, Nicola! Tories issue ‘boycott’ threat to Sturgeon’s ‘wildcat’ independence bid

Scottish independence is ‘not inevitable’ says Douglas Ross

Douglas Ross claimed the Tories would “boycott” an independence referendum whilst Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Ms Sturgeon should focus on beating the pandemic. The Scottish Conservative leader said that his party would take no part in a “wildcat” referendum as the SNP launched their “roadmap to independence” this weekend.

Under the new roadmap for independence which will be at the heart of the Nationalists election manifesto, the SNP told the Prime Minister IndyRef2 may need to be settled by a court case.

The roadmap claims any attempt by the UK Government to challenge the legality of the referendum in the courts will be “vigorously opposed” as the May Holyrood elections draw nearer.

The Moray MP today said a second vote “shouldn’t be given any credibility”, adding: “Anything that constitutes this new battle they want to take to the courts and an unofficial referendum should be boycotted, it shouldn’t be given any credibility.

“It is again a divisive tactic by the SNP to split our country apart with no then formal recognition of the result.

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“I won’t be taking part in that – I would hope anyone, not just unionist supporters but people who support democracy should not take part in these wildcat, unofficial referendums.

“I would make that plea to Scottish Labour, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and anyone who believes in democracy in Scotland.”

But Mr Ross later said: “A Section 30 order is the correct mechanism for any future referendum if we were to hold one because that’s how the two government’s agreed to the 2014 referendum.”

When asked by if the party would issue a motion of no confidence in Ms Sturgeon for prioritising independence in party policy, Mr Ross dodged the question and instead said it was “sadly the reality” the SNP would promote independence over other priorities including coronavirus.

Mr Ross added that senior SNP ministers had a “mentality” of putting independence first.

He stressed: “All the energy, time and focus should be focused on beating COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson spoke out about the “benefits of our wonderful union” during the difficult period of COVID-19.

The Prime Minister, who has made clear he does not support a second independence vote, said: “The whole UK is going through a pandemic, I think what the people of the UK want to see is everybody focusing on beating that pandemic, which we are, rolling out the vaccine, and getting ready to bounce back from that pandemic and have the strongest possible economic recovery.

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“I think people also can see everywhere in the UK the visible benefits of our wonderful union.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson later added: “Scotland had a referendum on this issue and the people of Scotland voted to stay a part of the United Kingdom and the prime ministers focus is on defeating coronavirus as the government top priority, supporting jobs and levelling up across the country.”

But Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Mike Russell said he did not believe Westminster would mount a legal challenge to such a vote if the Holyrood elections in May result in a majority of MSPs coming from parties supporting Scotland leaving the UK.

He said: “I think it’s such a bad look for any government to say: ‘Even if the people of Scotland vote for something, we’ll take them to court to stop them.”

Mr Russell stressed the party would first seek permission from Westminster for a Section 30 order, the powers required to hold a referendum if they won in May.

But should Mr Johnson refused permission for the vote, Mr Russell said the SNP would introduce and pass a bill for a second independence referendum to be held within the components of Holyrood.

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