Scottish independence: Sturgeon sets out Brexit tests

Jul 26, 2016

First Minister calls for country to retain free movement of labour and access to the single market

Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has voiced her fears about the UK's direction under Theresa May and set out a list of Scotland's key "interests" she believes must be protected during Brexit negotiations.

The list includes safeguarding free movement of labour, maintaining access to the single market, tackling terrorism and addressing climate change.

Speaking to business leaders, charities and public sector organisations in Edinburgh yesterday, the First Minister said opposition to these interests from within the UK was "substantial" and Scottish independence "may well be the option that offers us the greatest certainty, stability and maximum control over our destiny".

She described Westminster's failure to plan for Brexit as "one of the most shameful abdications of responsibility in modern political history" and voiced concern that the British government is pursuing a "hard rather than soft Brexit", which will result in a future outside the single market.

Sturgeon also described the Prime Minister's assertion that "Brexit means Brexit" as "just a soundbite that masks a lack of any clear sense of direction".

She added that she "genuinely" fears the prospect of the UK "seeking to alleviate its competitive disadvantage through deregulation, potentially offering more opportunities for tax avoidance".

Her list of priorities could determine whether she calls for another vote on "breaking up Britain" and is "likely to set her on a collision course with the rest of the UK", says the Daily Telegraph.

Former SNP boss Gordon Wilson, who led the party during the 1980s, warned against an early push for another vote, saying it was time for "cool calculation and wise political decisions".

However, Sturgeon's predecessor, Alex Salmond, set out a "prompt" timetable for independence, saying any separation would have to take place "within the Brexit timetable", possibly within the next two and half years.

Scottish independence 'fast approaching' after Trident result

20 July

A second referendum on Scottish independence is fast approaching in the wake of the decision to renew Trident, says the SNP.

MPs backed the replacement of the UK's nuclear weapons system this week, but 58 of Scotland's 59 MPs – of whom 54 are SNP - opposed the move. The only one who backed the position was Scottish Secretary David Mundell.

The SNP's Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, said the result, coming just weeks after the EU referendum vote, once again demonstrated the growing "democratic deficit" in Scotland. The vast majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU but were outnumbered by Brexit voters in England and Wales.

"If Scotland is a nation - and Scotland is a nation - it is not a normal situation for the state to totally disregard the wishes of the people," he told MPs.

With the vote on Trident, "it's going to get worse, not better", he added.

"It will be for the Scottish people to determine whether we are properly protected in Europe and better represented by a government that we actually elect. At this rate, that day is fast approaching."

SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will consider holding a second referendum, but remains open to other options if they are in Scotland's best interest.

The breakdown of the Trident vote was uncomfortable for the UK government, says the BBC's Nick Eardley. "Theresa May has made maintaining the UK a central part of her first week in office," he says, but the Trident result "gives the SNP the opportunity to say Scotland is being ignored".

Conservative MPs accused the SNP of disregarding the thousands of jobs dependent on the Trident fleet, which is based at Faslane on the Clyde, and openly mocked the nationalists' backing of Nato.

"The SNP ignores at least half of Scottish public opinion and is a party that is content to dispense with our deterrent but happy to cower under an American nuclear Nato umbrella," said Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.

Theresa May arrives in Scotland to independence referendum warning

15 July

Alex Salmond has warned Prime Minister Theresa May: "Don't mess with the people of Scotland", as she visits Edinburgh today for talks with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Salmond, Sturgeon's predecessor at Holyrood, told ABC Lateline yesterday that he believes independence for Scotland is now "inevitable".

Taking a belligerent tone, Salmond warned the PM that "telling the people of Scotland that their own parliament can't hold a national referendum on independence would be an extremely bad and extremely short-term move".

He added: "Let's be quite clear about this. I had dealings with the previous prime minister David Cameron, and he said 'no, you can't have a referendum', but as soon as we had a majority in the Scottish Parliament, he backed down.

"If that came to pass, if that was the situation at the end of the negotiations, then exactly the same thing will happen with Theresa May."

Speaking last night, May said her message to the Scottish people was that the government was on their side.

"This visit to Scotland is my first as prime minister and I'm coming here to show my commitment to preserving this special union that has endured for centuries," she said.

"And I want to say something else to the people of Scotland, too: the government I lead will always be on your side. Every decision we take, every policy we take forward, we will stand up for you and your family - not the rich, the mighty or the powerful.

"That's because I believe in a union, not just between the nations of the United Kingdom, but between all of our citizens."

Making the visit - her first official trip - on the second full day of her term of office is a mark of the seriousness May attaches to preserving the union, says The Scotsman.

She and Sturgeon will discuss Brexit, which was decisively rejected by voters north of the border.

The First Minister, who wants a separate EU deal for Scotland and intends to push for a second referendum on breaking up the UK if she doesn't get it, said last night that leaving the EU would put Scottish interests "at risk".

Scottish independence referendum: Hammond rules out multiple Brexit deals

14 July

Chancellor Philip Hammond has dealt a blow to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's hopes of negotiating a separate relationship with the EU for Scotland.

Speaking to the BBC's Good Morning Scotland, Hammond said he "could not envisage" separate Brexit deals for north and south of the border and insisted that the will of the UK electorate as a whole must be respected.

His comments contradicted Scotland Secretary David Mundell remarks yesterday that he was in favour of Scotland having a different Brexit deal from the rest of the UK if it was "doable".

Saying the best future for Scotland was inside the UK, Hammond added: "Let's make this United Kingdom economy work for all of us and let's negotiate with the European Union from outside the European Union a relationship which works for Britain and works for Europe so that we can have as close a relationship in trade and commerce as we possibly can, while being outside the European Union as the British people determined we should be."

The SNP has repeatedly said it would be "democratically unacceptable" for Scotland to be pulled out of the EU by England and Wales, given that 62 per cent of Scots who voted in the referendum opted to remain.

But Hammond denied a one-size-fits-all Brexit would ignore the will of the people. "It means that however we voted, we are part of the United Kingdom and we have democratic decisions made across the United Kingdom and we will now implement the decision that the people of the United Kingdom collectively have made to leave the European Union," he said.

Asked about the idea that Scotland could stay within the European single market while England and Wales left, he replied: "We want to have access to the single market. We want British companies to be able to go on selling their goods and services into the single market, as they have done before, and that applies to Scottish businesses as much as it applies to English, Welsh or Northern Irish businesses."

Sturgeon has said that if Scotland cannot have a separate Brexit deal, she wants to push for a second independence referendum within two years.

Scottish independence: Davidson says calls for vote 'irresponsible'

13 July

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has condemned calls for a second independence vote to be held following the result of the European Union referendum.

In a direct attack on the Scottish National Party (SNP) and its leader, Nicola Sturgeon, Davidson challenged the party to "put the national interest before its own nationalist vision for once".

Sturgeon maintains it would be "democratically unacceptable" for Scotland to be pulled out of the EU against its wishes and says a second independence referendum is now highly likely.

However, speaking at Westminster, Davidson said calls for another vote were "completely irresponsible" and accused the party of taking advantage of the political turmoil to further its own agenda.

"The SNP is, as usual, trying to seize on a moment of doubt and uncertainty to declare that the shining star of independence is the answer," she said.

"And it's trying to claim that, as a result of Brexit, there is now a massive groundswell for a second independence referendum. That simply is not true."

An SNP spokesperson countered that Davidson had already conceded that Westminster should not block a second independence referendum, The Scotsman reports.

"The SNP's focus is on the negotiations that lie ahead to protect Scotland's relationship with the EU and our place in the single market," says the paper, adding that a second vote was not off the table.

Davidson also welcomed Theresa May as new Tory leader and PM, telling the BBC they had agreed to move ahead with "constructive and positive engagement".

And she managed to sneak in a not-so-subtle dig at the leadership chaos within the Labour party. "The difference between our two parties: Labour is still fumbling with its flies while the Tories are enjoying their post-coital cigarette - after withdrawing our massive Johnson," she said.

Blocking Scottish independence referendum 'categorically wrong'

8 July

Scotland's Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has said it would be "categorically wrong" for the UK government to prevent a second referendum on breaking up the UK, if the Scottish people wanted one.

Speaking to Labour activists in Edinburgh, she suggested many of the minority of Scots who voted to Leave in the EU referendum may also have voted for Scottish independence in 2014 – and said they should be listened to.

Dugdale pointed out that a high number of Leave votes in the EU referendum were recorded in some of Scotland's poorest communities, which is also where the call to break up the UK was strongest, says The Guardian.

Asking voters to email her directly with their reasons for choosing Brexit, Dugdale said: "We need to understand why they felt the gamble of independence or the gamble of leaving the EU was a better prospect than fighting for change within the system we have.

"We in the Labour party, and across the Labour movement, need to recognise that it wasn't just disenchantment with the Tory party that brought this Leave result home.

"It was disdain for an entire political class who look out of touch, elitist, deaf to the concerns that people are raising and with no answers to the big challenges our country is facing."

She said Labour had "too rarely made a full-throated defence of immigration" and added: "We were too quick to follow public opinion instead of leading it."

Immediately after the UK voted to leave the EU, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said a second Scottish independence referendum was "highly likely" after a substantial majority of Scots voters chose to remain.

Dugdale's comments come days after the leader of the Conservatives in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, told the BBC it would be wrong for the UK government to block a second independence vote.

But Davidson said talk of a second Scottish referendum was "destabilising" and the arguments and decision about the break-up of the UK had "utterly" changed with the vote for Brexit.

Four Weddings star wants Scottish independence after Brexit vote

8 July

Scots actor John Hannah, who starred in Four Weddings and a Funeral, says he has changed his mind over the question of independence for his homeland following the EU referendum.

The actor said he was not "particularly happy with the idea of Scotland breaking up from the rest of the UK", but that under the new circumstances he would have "no doubt in saying the Scottish people should pursue their own interests and stay attached to Europe and have self-governance as an independent country".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has raised the prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum after a majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU, unlike voters in England and Wales.

Speaking to the Glasgow Evening Times, Hannah claimed that Northern Ireland, which voted to remain, also had a right to stay in the EU, saying that it was time for Ireland to unify.

"I believe there's been a referendum there and the majority of those in the north wanted to stay in Europe and if ever there was a country that should be one country it's Ireland, isn't it?"

The 54-year-old said he thought the Leave vote won because people were "sick of politicians pursuing their own self-interest".

But he warned those who voted for Brexit that "things aren't going to get any better: not for jobs, the future or industry".

He added: "Coal mining's not going to come back, steel industry's not going to come back, fishing industry's not going to come back."

The actor's change of heart is believed to be mirrored by many of those who voted against Scottish independence in 2014. A Survation poll taken after the Brexit vote was announced showed a six-point lead for independence.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson recently told the BBC that, while the UK government should "absolutely not" block a second referendum, there were huge economic concerns over independence that needed to be recognised. 

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To those who wish for a "YES" vote next September, let me make a suggestion from south of the border.

Why not have every Scottish cinema arrange to offer a special season of stirring Scottish movies - like "Braveheart" "Highlander" "Rob Roy" "Brave" etc., etc,... for 6 months or so leading up to the vote...???

You got a problem? Sounds like you're spitting the dummy out ...

I'm sure there'll be plenty of patriotic feeling as it is. Especially with the commonwealth games happening.

I'd rather see every theatre, lecture hall, arena etc in the country rented out and hosting a debate on independence. Each event can have a panel made of of Yes Scotland, Better Together and local politicians split 50/50. Plus a key note speech from a high profile YES and NO advocate. Have an extensive Q&A.

Everyone should have the chance to take part in this debate and it should be based on intellectual thought.

Not a very well researched article and it's fairly one sided towards NO. You don't even get the spending figures right but I suppose when you use the Torygraph as source what can one expect.

Stupid comment.

The last paragraph says it all realy.
Why should Scots feel bad the so called democratic defesit that SOME English feel because of devolution when Scotland had NO voice for 300 years?
Also it's an English problem not a Scottish one.
remember the "feable 50"?

"Torylaugh" - not "Torygraph"!


I wish the question would be this simple in my native Province of Quebec. "Should Quebec become an independent country?" But don't bet on it!

At the risk of chucking some history into the equation....
Scotland did not become part of he United Kingdom; England and Scotland formed the United Kingdom.
It is - to say the least - highly questionable to assert that Scotland gets more out of the Union than she puts in. The Barnett Formula does not give Scotland a higher share of public spending, just a higher share of certain parts (about half) of public sending, however she gets very little from the other half. The south-east, OTH, does very well indeed in the way of public spending that does not have a Barnett dimension - Channel Tunnel, Thames Barrier, renovating the underground, the M25 to name but a few....the oil revenues have been spent on projects that have benefited the whole country from Watford in the north to Guildford in the south. and a disproportionate share of 'national' government departments which helps to fuel escalating property prices.
Scotland has no clout at all in the EU.
Defence...Scotland's defence needs are trivial compared to the share of Scottish revenue spent on UK vanity armament programmes and foreign intervention.

It is the ignorance of those 'south of the border' that makes independence more appealing day by day. It is often like talking to an American when you talk to an English person. So full of propaganda it renders them politically mute. They resort to the nonsense you have just read from the ironically named TruthBeatsLies. What has happened to Portsmouth ? Royal naval vessels will be built in Scotland. If Scotland becomes independent, this will mean that they will be built in a foreign country. Is this good for Scotland ? Is it good for the remnants of the UK ? Independence is not about patriotism. It is political (shameful that this has to be pointed out). The majority of the population of Scotland are lowlanders.

Unfortunately, very few people (anywhere in the world) have the knowledge to make such a decision on the future of a nation. We are misinformed, ill-informed, and disinformed, and we make our decision based on this 'information'. If the politicians are unable to provide us with accurate information on what independence means, then what chance does the plebeian have ? Alas, our ignorant masses will have their say next year. Heads or tails.