Scotland’s Firs Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned that independence for the country is “essential” due to the UK’s eventual “shift to the right”.
The SNP leader made the comments while presenting the second paper on Scottish independence - titled ‘Renewing Democracy through Independence’.
It comes after the party announced plans to seek a legal referendum to be held on 19 October 2023, although Westminster has so far refused to budge on its stance that it will not grant such a vote.
Ms Sturgeon has said that the new Tory leadership contest has put into context the “essential” case for Scottish Independence.
What did Nicola Sturgeon say about Indyref2?
Ms Sturgeon addressed reporters at Bute House in Edinburgh.
She said: “Offering Scotland the choice of independence, particularly in the context we are in today, is essential.”
The First Minister has consistently said that the Scottish population have given her government a mandate to pursue a second referendum on independence by repeatedly voting for SNP officials.
Meanwhile, she added that the current Conservative leadership contest has only further alienated Scotland in the political context, saying that the country “wouldn’t elect any” of the candidates running.
Ms Sturgeon said: “None of them seem to have anything to offer Scotland. It’s a democracy denial.
“So, I won’t see them offering anything positive for Scotland at all.
“And that’s the problem. Scotland is facing yet another prime minister – the fourth in my time as First Minister – that we haven’t voted for, would not vote for, and that will impose policies that we don’t support.”
The First Minister warned that regardless of who is elected as the new Conservative leader, it marks a shift to the right for UK politics, adding: “The change of Tory leader seems virtually certain to be accompanied by a shift even further to the right.
“That means a shift even further away from the mainstream of Scottish opinion and values.”
Will a legal referendum be held on Indyref2?
The SNP have already announced plans to hold the referendum on 19 October 2023.
However, this will only be done if a legal vote is granted by Westminster.
In order to hold the vote, a section 30 order must be granted in order to give Scotland the temporarily devolved powers to put the question to the Scottish people.
Westminster has so far not budged on its stance that a vote should not take place, with Boris Johnson refusing Ms Sturgeon’s request in one of the last acts before he announced his intention to resign as Tory leader and Prime Minister.
The decision to grant a legal vote has now been put to the UK Supreme Court, with both sides arguing in favour of either holding the referendum or rejecting the request.
However, in the event that the legal route fails, Ms Sturgeon has said that her party will still put the option to the Scottish people in the form of a “de-facto” referendum.
She said: “While we hope and plan for a referendum, this should also be clear: if a referendum is blocked by Westminster, we will put the choice to the people of Scotland in the general election.
“Either way Scotland will have a choice.”
Ms Sturgeon added that her party would support a snap election in the case one is called upon after the Tory leadership race, saying: “If that happens, and I am not in control of that, I will set out exactly what the proposition from the SNP will be.
“You can absolutely take it as read that independence will be front and centre of that.”
What are the latest polls saying for Scottish Independence?
Latest polling shows that Scotland remain somewhat split on the idea of independence.
A Panelbase survey for the Sunday Times showed that the Yes campaign (in favour of independence) was narrowly in the lead, with 48% of respondents in favour of leaving the UK, while 47% wanted to remain.
The Yes campaign tends to see spikes in the polls during and after large political events including the Brexit vote and general elections.
However, polling has not yet taken place since Boris Johnson announced his resignation as Prime Minister.