Scottish independence: Nicola Sturgeon to make indyref2 statement

Scottish independence: Nicola Sturgeon to make indyref2 statement

Nicola Sturgeon is to make an announcement later today on the “way forward for Scotland” following the general election result.

Ms Sturgeon had called for an independence referendum to be held in the autumn of next year or the spring of 2019.

But she has been considering her options since the SNP lost 21 seats in the election earlier this month.

Ms Sturgeon is expected to make a statement at Holyrood at about 14:20.

In a tweet, the first minister said: “I’ll be seeking agreement of @ScotParl to make a statement later today on the way forward for Scotland after the General Election”.

Ms Sturgeon has previously said that the prospect of an independence referendum was a factor in the election result, which saw her party’s share of the vote drop from 50% to 37%.

However, the SNP remained by far the largest party in Scotland after winning 35 of the country’s 59 seats at Westminster.

When she set out her preferred timetable for a second independence referendum in March, the first minister said it would coincide with the expected conclusion of the UK’s Brexit negotiations.

Ms Sturgeon said this would allow Scottish voters to decide which path to follow once the terms of Brexit become clear – but her timetable was rejected by the UK government.

The prime minister has repeatedly argued that “now is not the time” for another referendum, with Scottish Secretary David Mundell saying he can see no circumstances in which it could be held before the next Holyrood election in 2021.

Independence and the referendum route to achieving it are core SNP policy and will not change. But what about the timetable for what’s become known as indyref2?

In March, the first minister said the vote should take place between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019 once the terms of Brexit become clear.

The SNP won the UK general election in Scotland which they said would give them a “triple lock” on their indyref2 position, having already won the Holyrood election and a vote in the Scottish Parliament demanding the power to hold a referendum.

But they also lost 21 of their 56 MPs and half a million votes and Nicola Sturgeon has acknowledged that the push for a second referendum was a factor in these setbacks.

The first minister has been reflecting on the election result.

The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have urged her to take indyref2 off the table.

Some in her own party including former Cabinet minister Alex Neil have also publicly urged her to put the referendum on hold.

Others in the independence movement including the co-conveners of the Scottish Greens – Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman – have appealed to her to stick with the original plan.

The first minister has not been short of advice as she has weighed up her decision.

Ms Sturgeon has faced calls from Unionist opposition parties to completely drop her campaign for another referendum.

They have argued that the election result means a referendum is now “dead”, and have urged Ms Sturgeon to instead focus on improving Scotland’s public services.

And some figures from within her own party have urged Ms Sturgeon to change her strategy following the election, and to temporarily “park” her referendum timetable.

‘Insurance policy’

There have been suggestions that the first minister will attempt to “rebrand” her proposed referendum, possibly as a potential “insurance policy” against a so-called hard Brexit, and will shift her focus onto securing single market status for Scotland and the UK.

But has been no suggestion that Ms Sturgeon will rule out a referendum being held in the future.

In a letter to Ms Sturgeon on Tuesday morning, the pro-independence Scottish Greens urged her not to back down on her referendum bid, and to “continue fighting” for another vote on the issue.

The letter from Green co-conveners Maggie Chapman and Patrick Harvie said: “Following the 2017 general election, it is clear that some are making the case that the relative fortunes of the political parties in Scotland give a basis for claiming that the right of people in Scotland to decide their constitutional future has been ‘rejected’.

“We cannot accept this and we urge you not to.”

Ms Sturgeon had been due to give a speech on Brexit to the Association of British Insurers in London but her appearance was cancelled on Tuesday morning.

Her statement will also follow confirmation of a deal between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on Monday.

The agreement, which will see the DUP back Theresa May’s minority government in key votes, includes £1bn in new funding for Northern Ireland.

‘Shameless deal’

But the investment will not fall under the Barnett formula – which means there will be no money for Scotland, Wales or the English regions as a result.

Ms Sturgeon has claimed that: “In concluding this grubby, shameless deal, the Tories have shown that they will stop at nothing to hold on to power – even sacrificing the very basic principles of devolution.”

The first minister has been pressing Mrs May to give greater involvement to the devolved governments in the Brexit process since.

Her key demands include a new “four-nation” approach which would see the re-establishment of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) on EU Negotiations and the establishment of a cross-party advisory group.

It has been confirmed the UK government will consult the devolved administrations on a key part of Brexit legislation.

Holyrood’s consent will be sought on the UK Government’s Great Repeal Bill – the legislation which aims to turn EU laws into UK laws.