First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP has criticised the Prime Minister’s refusal to grant the transfer of power to the Scottish Parliament which would allow an independence referendum to be held this year.
Commenting on the predictable response from Mr Johnson to the SNP Government’s democratic mandate, which would offer the people of Scotland a choice in an independence referendum and the detailed case for such a referendum set out by the SNP Government, Ms Sturgeon said:
“The Tories are afraid of Scotland having the right to choose our own future. They know that given the choice, the overwhelming likelihood is that people will choose the positive option of independence. The Tories and their allies in Labour and the Lib Dems, lack any positive case for the Union, so all they can do is try to block democracy. It shows utter contempt for the votes, views and interests of the people of Scotland and it is a strategy that is doomed to failure.
“While today’s response is not surprising, indeed we anticipated it, it will not stand. It is not politically sustainable for any Westminster government to stand in the way of the right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future and to seek to block the clear democratic mandate for an independence referendum.
“The problem for the UK Government is that the longer they try to block a referendum, the more they demonstrate that Union is not a partnership of equals and the more support for independence will grow. It will also mean for the Tories that the loss of more than half of their Scottish seats suffered at the recent general election – fought by them on the sole issue of opposition to an independence referendum – will be only the start of their return to political oblivion in Scotland.
“In short, as well as being unsustainable, the position set out today by the UK government is also entirely self-defeating.
“The SNP Government will set out our response and next steps later this month when we will also ask the Scottish Parliament to again endorse Scotland’s right to choose.
“One thing, though, is clear; the people of Scotland will get the right to decide our own future in an independence referendum. The Union cannot be sustained without consent. Democracy will prevail. The only question is how long it will take the Tories and the rest of the Westminster establishment to accept that inevitability.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“We knew that Mr Johnson would find an excuse to deny Scotland an independence referendum but the claim that this was meant to be a ‘once in a generation vote’ is particularly feeble.
“Since the referendum in 2014, the SNP has consistently won elections for Westminster, Holyrood and Europe across Scotland in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019. This is not just because the SNP’s progressive policies and mitigation in the face of relentless Tory cuts have helped to protect people, it is also because more and more people agree that Scotland does not benefit from being in this union of unequals.
“This SNP Government was overwhelmingly re-elected by the people of Scotland in 2016, on the explicit manifesto pledge that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is clear and sustained evidence that independence has become the preferred option of a majority of the Scottish people or if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.
“The argument that this has now happened is watertight. Even within the deeply conflicted Labour Party some principled politicians have felt compelled to speak out, including former First Minister Henry McLeish and I urge others within Labour to reflect on whether they think they can justify supporting the Tories in denying Scotland the logical outcome of a democratic mandate.”