Sturgeon refuses to rule out second independence referendum

30 Apr 15

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today refused to rule out another referendum on Scottish independence during the lifetime of the next Scottish parliament, but insisted that it would only happen if the people of Scotland wanted it.

She was challenged at First Minister’s Questions by Labour’s Kezia Dugdale to repeat her statement made during last year’s referendum campaign that the vote was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

‘If the people of Scotland want a referendum to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is exactly what it will be,’ Sturgeon said.

‘The people of Scotland are in charge at every single step of the way.’

With polls pointing consistently to a landslide in Scotland for her Scottish National Party in next Thursday’s election – including one this week which predicted that the SNP could win all 59 Scottish seats – Sturgeon faced sustained pressure to promise that she would not treat it as a mandate to trigger a fresh referendum poll.

Dismissing the questions as ‘desperate scaremongering about a referendum that nobody is proposing’, Sturgeon insisted that the SNP had no plans to re-stage the referendum, but stopped short of guaranteeing that there would be no mention of such plans in its manifesto for next May’s Holyrood elections.

Dugdale raised a claim made earlier today by former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars that SNP members would want a new referendum to be in the first line of the 2016 manifesto if the party swept the board next Thursday.

‘I’ve got the greatest respect for Jim Sillars, but the clue is in his title – former deputy leader of the SNP. I’m the current leader of the SNP,’ Sturgeon replied. 

‘The only people talking about a second referendum right now are Scottish Labour.’

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie claimed the last referendum had diverted the energies of the Scottish Government for three years and urged Sturgeon to rule out a re-run for the lifetime of the next Scottish Parliament. Voters, he said, had heard Sturgeon say last year that there would not be another referendum for a lifetime.

Sturgeon told him: ‘If the people of Scotland want a referendum to be ruled out for a generation, a lifetime, ten lifetimes, that’s exactly what will happen, because the people of Scotland are in charge.’

  • Keith Aitken
    Keith Aitken

    covers Scottish affairs for Public Finance from Edinburgh. He was formerly economics editor and chief leader writer on The Scotsman and now has a busy freelance career as a writer, broadcaster and event chair.

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