Nicola Sturgeon 'regurgitated SNP pledges' says Wells

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has reaffirmed her commitment to holding a second independence referendum in the first half of the new parliamentary term. At the announcement of her draft co-operation agreement with the Scottish Greens, the SNP leader said the deal made it “impossible on any democratic basis” for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to continue to refuse a second vote on the constitution. Ms Sturgeon said: “I believe Scotland should be independent so that we can better equip ourselves to recover from Covid in the way that I think a majority of people across our country wishes to do – towards a greener, fairer Scotland.

“This agreement, I think, makes it hard and indeed impossible on any democratic basis for a UK Government to resist the right of the Scottish people to choose their own future.

“We’re simply asking for democracy to be respected.”

Westminster has repeatedly rejected attempts by the Scottish Government to secure the necessary powers to hold another independence referendum, with senior ministers and Mr Johnson saying the focus should be on recovery from COVID-19.

As tensions between Westminster and Holyrood rise and uncertainty over the Union continues, unearthed reports reveal how Ms Sturgeon refused to rule out trying for a third independence referendum within a short period if she lost her planned second vote.

In 2017, the First Minister was challenged twice during a special edition of the BBC’s Question Time programme in Edinburgh to promise the result of a second referendum would be respected for a minimum period, such as a generation or 25 years.

Ms Sturgeon promised during the 2014 referendum campaign that another vote would not be held for another generation, perhaps a lifetime.

However, she requested a second referendum at the end of the Brexit process in 2017.

An audience member asked: “If there was a second vote, should it apply for a minimum period of time, for a generation, 25, 30 years?”

Ms Sturgeon justified her about-turn by arguing that Scots were erroneously told during the 2014 referendum that a No vote would have protected the country’s place in the EU.

However, pressed again whether the result of a second referendum would be respected for a minimum period if she lost, she said: “I don’t think it’s right for any politician to dictate to a country what its future should be.

“I think that should be a choice for the people of Scotland.”

According to Lord David Owen, Mr Johnson will ultimately have to back down to the SNP’s demands for a second referendum – but not any time soon.

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The former Foreign Secretary and SDP leader told Express.co.uk: “I totally believe in the Union.

“And I would be very surprised if the Government agrees to another referendum before the next election.

“It will come after the next election – so in four or five years.

“The former Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond made it absolutely clear in the 2014 referendum campaign that it was a generational question.

“He used the word. Now, you can argue about what a generation is… Certainly 10 years. I would say even 15 to 20.”

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Lord Owen noted: “You don’t have a referendum when you think you can win it.

“Referendums are rare things and are largely for constitutional issues.

“We were asked about EU membership in 1975 and then in 2016. That is a long time.

“You don’t have referendums on constitutional issues every five or six years.”

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