The Scottish people must be allowed to have “the democratic choice they have voted for”, with another referendum on independence, Scotland’s First Minister has said.
Nicola Sturgeon made the comments ahead of laying out what she has called the “route map” to another independence vote, even if Westminster tries to block the plans.
Under the Scotland Act, the UK government would need to make a so-called section 30 order to permit a referendum. Such an Order in Council was issued ahead of the 2014 independence vote under the the Edinburgh agreement between Westminster and Holyrood.
Boris Johnson insists that, in the interest of stability, no section 30 order will be issued, while Ms Sturgeon asserts that one cannot be reasonably refused.
She says SNP’s victory in the 2021 Holyrood election gives her the mandate to hold another referendum, which she wants before the end of 2023.
SNP failed to win overall control in the Scottish Parliament last year but a power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Green Party means there is a majority in Holyrood for a fresh vote on independence.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s statement Ms Sturgeon said: “In Scotland, it is the people who are and have always been sovereign – and it is the people’s will which must prevail.
“That may be an inconvenient truth for our political opponents, but it is a simple and unavoidable truth nonetheless.”
She said that attempts to block the vote by Westminster will “weaken the UK government’s standing” north of the border and internationally.
Ms Sturgeon added: “Bluntly, the UK government is in no position to lecture any other country about the need to respect democratic norms if it is intent on trying to thwart democracy at home.
“Westminster rule over Scotland cannot be based on anything other than a consented, voluntary partnership.
“It is time to give people the democratic choice they have voted for, and then with independence to build a more prosperous, fairer country in a true partnership of equals between Scotland and our friends in the rest of the UK.”
First minister making ‘obsessive push’ for independence
Ms Sturgeon’s critics claim she is obsessed with a second referendum at a time when the government should be focussing on tackling the cost-of-living crisis.
Conservative MSP Donald Cameron described her “obsessive push” for an independent vote is the “height of self-indulgence and irresponsibility”.
Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, accused the first minister of “trying to drag Scotland back to the politics of the past instead of dealing with the challenges of the present”, adding Ms Sturgeon is trying to “tear communities apart for politician gain” while people in Scotland “are struggling to put food on the table as bills spiral”.
Mandate to hold a referendum is crystal clear’
Ms Sturgeon, and the SNP, have however received support from the Scottish Green Party, which hold seven seats in Holyrood.
Party leader Lorna Slater argued that another referendum is about democracy.
“Both the Scottish Green Party and the SNP committed, in our respective election manifestos, to holding a referendum in this parliamentary session,” she said.
“Our parties won more votes and more seats than the three unionist parties.
“The mandate to hold a referendum is crystal clear.
“The people will have their say.”