Nicola Sturgeon to ask UK government to agree to second Scottish independence referendum

Monday 13th September 2021 07:45 BST

Scotland's first minister will tell SNP members that "democracy must - and will - prevail", to allow the country another vote on its future.

She is due to deliver the closing speech of the SNP conference shortly before midday, and is expected to say she hopes to adopt an approach of "co-operation not confrontation".

Ms Sturgeon has called for another referendum by the end of 2023, at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is "under control".

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, she said she wouldn't "set a precise level of infection" for when a vote could happen - "but you would want to see the COVID situation under control".

However, the prime minister has previously signalled he does not support a second Scottish referendum.

When asked about the issue in March, Boris Johnson said: "When you ask people to vote on a highly controversial and divisive issue, an issue that breaks up family relationships, that is extremely toxic and divisive, and you tell them this is going to happen only once in a generation, I think you should stick to it."

The SNP leader is expected to tell the virtual conference: "It is in that spirit of co-operation that I hope the Scottish and UK governments can reach agreement - as we did in 2014 - to allow the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland to be heard and respected.

"But, this much is clear: democracy must - and will - prevail."

She will add: "The United Kingdom is after all a voluntary union of nations.

"Until recently, no one seriously challenged the right of the people in Scotland to choose whether or not they wished to become independent.

"Frankly, it is not up to a Westminster government which has just six MPs in Scotland to decide our future without the consent of the people who live here.

"As an independent country, co-operation between Scotland and our friends across the rest of the UK will continue, but it will be on a better basis: Scotland will be an equal partner."

The SNP conference has backed the Scottish Government's plans for the timing of another independence referendum at the "earliest" possible moment after the COVID crisis.

The party said the date should be determined by "data-driven criteria" about when the public health crisis is over.

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But the chief executive of the Scotland in Union campaign group, Pamela Nash, said: "The first minister has clearly run out of ideas.

"If Nicola Sturgeon was serious about believing in co-operation, she would focus on making devolution work and using Holyrood's powers to build a recovery for everyone.

"Instead, she is blindsided by her obsession with breaking up our country."

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