Ian Blackford says he’s stepping down as SNP Westminster leader
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Ian Blackford has compared the Scottish Independence campaign to Brexit, demanding Rishi Sunak respect “the will of the people”. The former Westminster Leader of the SNP, said the independence vote is about “the right of the Scottish Parliament”, adding: “The EU accepted through the article 50 process the right of the UK to leave.” Speaking to Sky News, he questioned: “What is the mechanism for Scotland to leave the UK if it chooses to do so? The PM has to respect democracy.”
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Government does not have the relevant legal powers to hold a second referendum on independence without Westminster approval.
But giving a press conference after the Supreme Court verdict, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon vowed to continue pushing for independence.
She said: “As long as there is breath in my body, I refuse to give up on the basic principle of democracy.”
Despite Mr Blackford’s comparison with the Brexit vote, Ms Sturgeon’s latest independence paper included a proposal on re-joining the EU for access to the Single Market, making it clear that reversing Brexit is key to the SNP’s independence vision.
The November 2022 paper, which set out the financial case for an independent Scotland, said that the UK Government “cannot be trusted to act in Scotland’s interests”.
Speaking about the paper at the time of publication, Ms Sturgeon said said “independence is now essential” in order to “prevent further economic damage being inflicted by Westminster Governments”.
The First Minister claimed that Brexit has made the UK even more “ill-equipped to cope with events like the cost of living crisis”.
Yesterday, Members of the Scottish parliament faced controversy for holding a debate on independence, despite public sector services being “on the brink of collapse”.
The debate, entitled: “People’s Right to Choose – Respecting Scotland’s Democratic Mandate”, saw Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson says the UK Government has been “undermining and systematically dismantling devolution”.
Speaking in Holyrood yesterday afternoon, Scottish Tory MSP Donald Cameron hit out at the debate itself, saying it is “nothing short of shameful”.
Echoing this sentiment ahead of the debate, Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “The NHS is facing one of the worst crises in its history, public services are on the brink of collapse, and schools are set to close again because of strike action.
“Yet the SNP-Green government wants to push all that aside in order to debate the only issue it really cares about.
“People look to the Scottish Parliament to tackle the things that matter most to them.
“Instead, we have a nationalist government which thinks the most important thing is to break up the UK.
“It may be a new year, but by prioritising its tired old arguments on independence, the Scottish Government is once again exposing its narrow-minded and self-serving agenda.”
Speaking ahead of the debate, Angus Robertson, Scotland’s Constitution Secretary said the Scottish Government remains “willing to engage” with the UK Government on the issue of a second referendum
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