Sturgeon : Election is ‘referendum on referendum’ says expert
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has announced plans to try to legislate for a second independence referendum even if Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to refuse to approve such a vote. Michael Russell, Scotland’s Constitution Secretary and SNP President, has said a bill to hold Indyref2 will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament if the Holyrood elections result in a pro-independence majority. The plans follow growing pressure on SNP leaders from members for a “Plan B” route to a referendum.
Mr Johnson has said he will not approve another independence vote and argued in an interview earlier this month that Westminster should not allow one until the 2050s.
Mr Russell said in a statement that the Scottish Parliament could then pass a bill preparing for an independence vote even without UK approval, challenging Westminster to “take legal action to dispute the legal basis of the referendum and seek to block the will of the Scottish people in the courts”.
The Scottish Government and some legal experts have in the past argued that Edinburgh can legally unilaterally hold an advisory independence referendum under current devolution law.
In a speech last year, Ms Sturgeon said she did not rule out testing the legality of such a vote.
Moreover, speaking from Edinburgh on Brexit day, Ms Sturgeon said she also wanted to establish a new constitutional convention to endorse a “modern Claim of Right for Scotland”.
Nicola Sturgeon handed ‘route map’ to independence in paper signed by Gordon Brown
Michael Russell, Scotland’s Constitution Secretary
She said: “We will invite Scotland’s elected representatives – MSPs, MPs, the MEPs elected last year and council leaders – to come together to endorse a modern Claim of Right for Scotland through a new Constitutional Convention.
“To declare that it is for the Scottish Parliament to decide whether and when there should be an independence choice and build support for that principle among civic Scotland.”
The process echoes the drafting of the original Claim of Right document of 1989.
In the document was the call to establish a Scottish Assembly – which eventually came to fruition following the 1997 devolution referendum – and its signatories included former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The SNP at the time did not sign it as it stated the claim did not consider the issue of independence.
However, the party changed its stance on it in 2012 with Ms Sturgeon, who at the time was Deputy First Minister, saying her party “backed the principles” of it.
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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Should Scotland become independent?
The House of Commons officially endorsed the principles of the Claim of Right.
However, this was a non-binding endorsement and did not create any legal recognition of it.
The document itself was a declaration of the sovereignty of the Scottish people and was signed by several MPs who would later hold high positions both in their party and the UK Government.
Signatories included Mr Brown, future Chancellor Alastair Darling and future Liberal Democrat party leaders Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell.
The Claim of Right reads as follows: “We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs,
“And do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount.
“We further declare and pledge that our actions and deliberations shall be directed to the following ends:
“To agree a scheme for an Assembly or Parliament for Scotland;
“To mobilise Scottish opinion and ensure the approval of the Scottish people for that scheme;
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Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown
“To assert the right of the Scottish people to secure implementation of that scheme.”
According to Scotia Future leader Chic Brodie, the Claim of Right is actually the only foundation “on which an independence route map can be agreed”.
He said: “The 1989 Claim of Right makes clear the sovereignty of the Scottish people to choose their own destiny and that fundamental truth is the only foundation on which an independence route map can be agreed.
“By contrast the SNP’s recent so-called route map is more a dead end than a road forward and has significant gaps, notable in timescale and detail.
“The SNP’s proposals talk about holding a referendum ‘once the pandemic is over’, is that this year, next year, or two years’ time?
“This is crucial because Scotland needs a full sovereign government now to rebuild the economy as soon as possible.
“Also, why are the SNP naively inviting Westminster to take legal action when sovereignty rests here not in London?
“Frankly, the wider Yes movement deserves better.”
Former Labour MP George Galloway
Mr Brown has recently been tipped as the best candidate to become Scottish Labour leader after Richard Leonard resigned just four months before May’s Holyrood election.
Mr Leonard, who had been leader for three years, said his decision to step aside was in the “best interests of the party”.
Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, has taken over on a temporary basis.
Former MP George Galloway wrote on Twitter: “I have known Gordon Brown 45 years.
“Labour is not my party.
“Making him Scottish Labour leader would be the biggest single thing the party could do to rescue Scotland from the perdition of perpetual SNP rule, the Neverendum, and could save Britain.”
Many social media users were quick to back Mr Galloway’s comments, as they detailed how Mr Brown could be the “SNP’s nightmare”.
One person wrote: “Gordon Brown becoming next Scottish Labour leader would be the SNP’s nightmare.
“For that reason, I would be happy if the rumour is true.”
Andrew Adonis, Labour member of the House of Lords, also tipped the former Prime Minister to step up to lead Labour in Scotland.
Mr Brown played a prominent role in the lead-up to, and the aftermath of, the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, campaigning for Scotland to stay in the UK.