Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to relaunch the campaign for Scottish independence today.
Later today the SNP leader will release a paper contrasting the socioeconomic performance of the UK and the “striking” success of its European neighbours, for the purpose of arguing that Scotland ought to exit the Union.
She told reporters yesterday evening that the ongoing cost-of-living crisis meant it was “exactly the time” to urge another vote, arguing that the ability to tackle it is being hampered by “a UK Government committed to a hard Brexit whatever the cost”.
Sturgeon also seemed to suggest that Scotland would have voted to leave the UK back in the 2014 referendum if they had known what political twists and turns awaited them in the coming years.
She said that further papers would examine public spending and currency.
Ahead of the 2014 vote, one 670-page paper was published on the party’s independence plans.
In that referendum 55 per cent of Scots voted No to leaving the UK, while 45 per cent voted Yes.
Sturgeon, who says she aims to stage a referendum in Autumn 2023, is yet to indicate when she intends to bring forward a Referendum Bill. She has also failed to outline how a legal vote could occur without Westminster’s consent.
Surveys commissioned earlier this year by Survation and Panelbase respectively found that less than 3 in 10 Scots support a fresh vote on this timescale.
Speaking last night Sturgeon suggested that “unlike Boris Johnson”, she “respect[s] the rule of law,” adding: “We know that the competence of the Scottish parliament to legislate without a Section 30 order is contested so that’s what we are navigating. That work is well under way.”
Johnson has rejected recent calls for a further referendum on Scottish independence.
The BBC quizzed Sturgeon over whether she planned to submit a section 30 order to the UK government to request powers to hold the vote.
She explained: “That request is well known. I think I have made it formally in the past, if I need to renew that I will happily do that.
“We have to work out, and this work is underway, how we navigate our way towards a lawful process with a UK Government that doesn’t respect democracy.”
At the launch of the paper, titled Independence in the Modern World. Wealthier, Happier, Fairer: Why Not Scotland?, Sturgeon will take the stage with Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie.
Speaking with BBC Scotland ahead of today’s launch, Sturgeon argued: “Nobody right now can look at the UK, the mess it’s in currently and the prospects for the UK outside of the European Union surely, and conclude anything but that Scotland can do better as an independent country.
“In fact, had we known in 2014 everything we know now about the path the UK would have taken in the years since then, I’ve got no doubt Scotland would have voted yes [to separation] back then.”
Scottish Conservatives shadow constitution secretary, Donald Cameron, criticised the plans arguing: “The vast majority of Scottish people don’t want the distraction of another referendum next year. They want the government 100 per cent focused on our recovery from the pandemic, the global cost-of-living crisis, supporting our NHS and protecting jobs.
“Yet Nicola Sturgeon is recklessly pressing ahead with her obsession anyway. This is nothing short of shameful when the country is facing so many momentous challenges.”
Scottish Labour’s constitution spokesperson Sarah Boyack also took aim at the plans: “We should be working together to tackle the cost-of-living crisis now – but instead the SNP-Green government wants to tear us apart.
“This is an appalling waste of time, energy and money when our public services are being cut to the bone.”