Announcing her programme to the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon revealed draft legislation on a second Scottish Independence vote, which will be brought forward ahead of a potential referendum next year. Despite the UK and Scotland still recovering from the peak of the virus, Ms Sturgeon pledged the pandemic would not hold up the SNP’s ambition for independence. However, Scottish political commentator, Alan Cochrane wrote in The Daily Telegraph, criticising her pursuit for independence amid the pandemic.
He wrote: “Government plans to ‘improve’ things for us can often be lumped under one or more of the following headings: pie in the sky; wishful thinking; pig in a poke; or jam tomorrow.
“The last one is probably the most appropriate for Nicola Sturgeon’s statement yesterday, ignoring as it did and as Ruth Davidson reminded her, the urgent need for immediate assistance for ‘small businesses’.
“Those were the two words, she said, that the First Minister omitted in her 6,000-word speech.
“But she did manage to mention the two words that are always closest to her heart, namely ‘independence referendum’.
Nicola Sturgeon: The First Minister announced the plan yesterday
Nicola Sturgeon: Some have called for a delay to the vote
“That was the ‘jam’ that brought easily the biggest cheer from her backbenchers.
“While beleaguered Scottish businesses hoped for news of urgent help in the coming days, Ms Sturgeon spelt out what she would be doing next March or April – tabling a draft bill setting out the terms and timing of an independence referendum as well as the proposed question on the ballot paper.”
Figures have shown Scotland’s national deficit, which is the difference between spending and tax revenues, has surged by £2billion to £15.1billion in the last year.
According to the figures, this rise amounted to 8.6 percent of GDP, more than the three percent needed for EU membership.
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Nicola Sturgeon: The First Minister claimed the party will not drop its pursuit of a vote
Ruth Davidson, who leads the Scottish Tories in Holyrood, has claimed more must be done to protect Scottish businesses struggling during the pandemic.
Scottish unemployment for those over 16 has also risen to 4.6 percent in comparison to the UK-wide figure of 3.9 in June, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
In the same batch of figures, the ONS also stated unemployment had risen by 30,00 to 127,000 between February and April.
Ms Sturgeon did unveil certain measures such as a National Transition Training Fund and a Scottish Youth Guarantee, to help mobilise the workforce, some group have called on the First Minister to drop any independence to focus solely on the economy.
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Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Scotland policy chair, said: “With a tidal wave of unemployment on the horizon, jobs need to be a top priority for the Scottish Government.
“The key thing will be getting new schemes up and running quickly.”
Indeed, according to UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, 779,000 people north of the border have been placed onto the furlough scheme.
With the scheme set to end in October, Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross called on the First Minister to act to help protect Scottish jobs.
Nicola Sturgeon: Scottish Independence polling
He has also launched a new campaign to level up the economy, termed up ‘Power Up Scotland’.
Hitting out at her plans for independence, he said: “The First Minister just doesn’t get it.
“We need to take Scotland forward and recover from this crisis together, not go back to the divisions of the past.”
Nicola Sturgeon: The First Minister did not announce other measures
Although Ms Sturgeon is pushing for an independence vote next year, the referendum would need to be approved by the UK Government.
Previously, Boris Johnson has claimed this will not happen as the 2015 was termed as once in a generation vote.