Boris Johnson’s one-word response as Sturgeon launches IndyRef2 circus


The Prime Minister shot down Scotland’s First Minister immediately after she unveiled the first of her independence papers – entitled ‘Independence in the Modern World. Wealthier, Happier, Fairer: Why Not Scotland?’ – which she claims would “point the way to a wealthier, fairer and more resilient nation”. Delivering the immediate blow, Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said voters in Scotland wanted the Holyrood and Westminster governments to focus on working together to tackle the current cost of living crisis rather than independence. 

He said his position – which has been to block an independence referendum – remained “unchanged” and Ms Sturgeon should get on with tackling the people of Scotland’s priorities.

The official said: “We are confident that the people of Scotland want and expect their governments to be working together to focus on issues like the global cost of living challenges, like the war in Europe and the issues that matter to their families and their communities.”

“The position on the referendum remains unchanged.

“It’s not something the Prime Minister believes the public want either government to be focused on at a time when there are other challenges facing them right now

“First and foremost we want to continue to work with the Scottish government on those issues that are affecting the public right now.”

The launch of the papers, seen as update of the independence white paper published in the run-up to the 2014 referendum, comes after Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP won the 2021 Holyrood election on a manifesto which included a commitment to hold another referendum on Scotland’s place in the UK once the Covid crisis had abated.

The SNP did not win a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament in that election, but voters having also returned a record number of Green MSPs created a pro-independence majority within Holyrood.

As the papers were published, Ms Sturgeon said her victory in last May’s Holyrood elections – which saw the SNP pledge to hold another referendum – and the pro-independence majority amongst MSPs meant the Scottish Parliament has an “indisputable democratic mandate” for such a vote even though Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to issue a “Section 30” order to allow one.

Speaking at her official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, she said: “We intend to honour that. 

“If we are to uphold democracy here in Scotland, we must forge a way forward, if necessary without a section 30 order.

“That therefore is the situation we must navigate to give people the choice of independence. Now that work is well underway, and while I do not intend to go further into the detail today, I can say that I do plan to give a significant update to Parliament very soon indeed.”

Ms Sturgeon said it was “time now to set out and debate” the case for Scotland to leave the UK. 

The First Minister said: “After everything that has happened, Brexit, Covid, Boris Johnson, it is time to set out a different and better vision.

“It is time to talk about making Scotland wealthier and fairer. It is time to talk about independence and then make that choice.”

Ms Sturgeon insisted when she was re-elected as First Minister last May it was on a “clear commitment to give the people of Scotland the choice of becoming an independent country”.

She noted that Holyrood had a “decisive majority” of MSPs in favour of independence, as she insisted: “The Scottish Parliament therefore has an indisputable democratic mandate.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “Scotland, like countries across the world, faces significant challenges.

“But we also have huge advantages and immense potential. The refreshed case for independence is about how we equip ourselves to navigate the challenges and fulfil that potential, now and in future.”

She continued: “In their day-to-day lives, people across Scotland are suffering the impacts of the soaring cost of living, low growth and increasing inequality, constrained public finances and the many implications of a Brexit we did not vote for.

“These problems have all been made worse or, most obviously in the case of Brexit, directly caused by the fact we are not independent.

“So at this critical juncture we face a fundamental question. Do we stay tied to a UK economic model that consigns us to relatively poor economic and social outcomes which are likely to get worse, not better, outside the EU?

“Or do we lift our eyes, with hope and optimism, and take inspiration from comparable countries across Europe?”

Her unveiling in the Scottish Government’s Building a New Scotland series at Bute House in Edinburgh on Tuesday comes after she said the UK was in a “mess” following the UK’s departure from the EU.

Speaking ahead of the launch, she told BBC Scotland: “Nobody right now can look at the UK, the mess it’s in currently and the prospects for the UK outside of the European Union surely, and conclude anything but that Scotland can do better as an independent country.

READ MORE: Brexit ‘shatters Scotland’s EU ambitions’

“In fact, had we known in 2014 everything we know now about the path the UK would have taken in the years since then, I’ve got no doubt Scotland would have voted yes [to independence] back then.”

The SNP leader has repeatedly made clear she wants a referendum before the end of 2023 – despite fierce opposition from the UK Government to such a vote taking place.

Speaking ahead of the launch of the first paper, the First Minister added: “The Building a New Scotland series will set out openly the challenges a newly independent Scotland would face, how they could be overcome as well as the opportunities that come with independence – as demonstrated by the success of comparable independent nations as well as our own resources and talents.”

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie will also join Ms Sturgeon in Bute House – the First Minister’s official residence – for the launch event.

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Opposition MSPs however insisted the Scottish Government should be more focused on issues such as the cost of living crisis.

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Donald Cameron said Ms Sturgeon was “recklessly pressing ahead with her obsession anyway”.

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon is wilfully ignoring Scotland’s priorities to push ahead with plans for a second divisive independence referendum in 2023.

“The vast majority of Scottish people don’t want the distraction of another referendum next year. They want the government 100 percent focused on our recovery from the pandemic, the global cost-of-living crisis, supporting our NHS and protecting jobs.

“Yet Nicola Sturgeon is recklessly pressing ahead with her obsession anyway. This is nothing short of shameful when the country is facing so many momentous challenges.”

Mr Cameron added: “The distraction and disruption of another bitter referendum debate is the last thing Scotland needs right now.”

Labour constitution spokeswoman Sarah Boyack said that while people were “struggling to put food on the table during the worst cost of living crisis in a decade” the SNP and Greens were focusing on “their constitutional obsession”.

Ms Boyack hit out: “We should be working together to tackle the cost of living crisis now – but instead the SNP-Green government want to tear us apart.

“This is an appalling waste of time, energy and money when our public services are being cut to the bone.

“Far from making us wealthier, happier and fairer, the SNP and the Greens are putting our future at risk with plans that would make Brexit look like a walk in the park.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton was also critical of the SNP and Greens, claiming: “They care more about their independence obsession than everyone stuck on the longest NHS waiting lists in history, the cost of living crisis or the climate emergency. Nobody believes education is Nicola Sturgeon’s top priority any more.

“The SNP and Greens are taking people for granted. Let’s lay aside talk of an independence referendum and get to grips with what matters right now.”





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