Nicola Sturgeon’s party has pushed for a second independence referendum in the aftermath of the 2016 referendum. The majority of Scotland voted Remain, and the SNP wants to take the country back into the EU as an independent nation. Support for independence has enjoyed a sustained boost in recent months. A survey by pollsters Ipsos MORI found that 58 percent of those who said they were likely to vote in an independence referendum would vote Yes while 42 percent would opt for No.
The SNP appear to be in a strong position, but internal divisions still persist within the party as some Scottish nationalists grow impatient with the leadership.
Polling expert Sir John Curtice warned in July that this could prove costly for Ms Sturgeon.
He said that the nationalist movement in Scotland being “effectively organised by one party” has provided an advantage over the “fragmented” unionist side, which he said had been a “fundamental weakness” of the No campaign in 2014.
But he warned that if SNP fractures were to widen, history could repeat itself.
Mr Curtice said: “The brutal truth, it seems to me, is that the biggest risk the SNP face to the realisation of their ambitions are their own internal divisions.
“Obviously Nicola Sturgeon will face the difficulties of the handling of the Alex Salmond affair and there is a reasonable debate to be had about what are you going to do if you get an overall majority and the UK Government does still say no.
“I suspect Sturgeon will be wise at some point to say a little bit more about that but she’s obviously determined at the moment to say, ‘I’m just not talking about independence at all’.”
As rows within the party threaten to derail the independence push, some Scottish nationalists have directed blame at the First Minister.
After the UK’s general election in December, Ms Sturgeon pleaded for more patience from Scottish nationalists, saying “to pretend that there are shortcuts or clever wheezes that can magically overcome the obstacles we face would be to do the independence cause a disservice”.
Popular and influential pro-independence website – Wings Over Scotland – announced at the time it would stop posting until Ms Sturgeon was gone in an article titled “The Betrayer”.
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She said: “Assuming a referendum bill is passed by the parliament, there is then a four-week period where both the UK and Scottish law officers have the opportunity to refer it to the Supreme Court for a ruling of whether it’s within competence or not.
“This happened with the Scottish Continuity Bill, the UK Government referred the bill to the Supreme Court which meant it couldn’t get royal assent and be enforced.
“It took several months for the Supreme Court to hear the case, and in the meantime the EU Withdrawal Act was passed and that reduced the legislative powers of the Scottish Government.
“There is a risk that the UK Government could refer a referendum bill to the Supreme Court and pass legislation to make clear Holyrood cannot call an independence referendum.
“There is no legal barrier to prevent the UK Government from attempting to do this. Whether or not it is a justifiable course of action would of course be a matter of dispute. I can imagine a lot of people would regard it as illegitimate.”