Nicola Sturgeon has addressed the ongoing legal situation in regards to the Scottish Independence referendum at the SNP annual conference in Aberdeen.
The Scottish First Minister spoke frankly about her party’s plans amid the current Supreme Court battle between the Scottish and UK Governments. The two are going against each other over the legality of the Scottish Government being able to hold a valid referendum without the UK Government’s permission.
The SNP has previously said that it plans to hold the vote once again in October 2023. However, the legal situation may put this timescale into question.
So what is the plan? Here’s what Nicola Sturgeon told SNP members at the annual conference in Aberdeen.
What did Nicola Sturgeon say about the planned 2023 independence referendum?
In June, the First Minister introduced the plan which her party had created around the second independence referendum. The first referendum took place in 2014.
It was announced then that the SNP planned to hold the vote on 19 October 2013. However, the party also conceded that the referendum would have to be held legally.
THe UK Government has refused to issue a section section 30 order, which would devolve the power needed to hold a legally-binding referendum to the Scottish Government. The case has now gone to the Supreme Court, which is due to make a ruling on whether the Scottish population have the right to vote in a legal referendum without the UK Government’s permission.
Speaking to the crowd gathered at The Event Complex in Aberdeen, Ms Sturgeon addressed the situation. She confirmed that if the Supreme Court does not rule in the favour of the SNP, a vote will not be held on 19 October 2023.
Ms Sturgeon added that if the court does rule in favour of the SNP’s proposal, the vote will go ahead. The First Minister said: “If Westminster had any respect at all for Scottish democracy, this court hearing wouldn’t be necessary. But Westminster has no such respect.”
She added that in the event the court rules against her party’s case, the SNP will instead seek a mandate at the next general election to hold a referendum. This means that the party may campaign on the sole issue of independence; if it wins a majority in Scotland, it will arguably prove to the UK Government that the majority of voters in Scotland would like to have their say in an independence referendum once again.
Ms Sturgeon added: “I will never – ever – give up on Scottish democracy. For now, the question of process – the ‘how’ of securing independence – is in the hands of judges.”
What else did Nicola Sturgeon say about independence at the SNP conference?
The SNP leader spoke heavily on the issue of independence during her keynote speech at the annual conference. The party has already released one paper detailing how independence will work, with Ms Sturgeon adding that the second paper is due to be published on 17 October.
The First Minister described independence as “essential”, adding: “It is essential to escape Westminster control and mismanagement. Essential to get the governments we vote for, to properly protect our NHS, to build a new partnership of equals with the other nations on these islands.
“It is essential if we want to be back in the European Union. And it is essential if we want the people who live here to determine the future of this extraordinary country.”
Ms Sturgeon also addressed those in Scotland who are on the ‘No’ side of the debate. She said: “I know that some watching at home will never be persuaded to vote Yes.
You oppose independence as strongly – and from as much principle – as we support it.
“I respect that. That is democracy. And please remember – whatever happens in future, Scotland belongs to you as much as it does to us.”