SNP accused of ‘letting the cat out the bag’ over any future referendum
Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP, Margaret Ferrier has come under fire after asking if the UK Government had contingency plans in place for another independence referendum.
Ms Ferrier, who is the SNP’s spokesperson for the Scottish Office, submitted the written question to the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, on July 17.
It asked: “what contingency plans his Department has prepared for the possibility of a further referendum on Scottish independence being the policy of the Scottish Government after the Scottish Parliament election in 2016.”
The question has been seized on by political opponents who claim the SNP are plotting another referendum on Scottish Independence.
Rutherglen MSP, James Kelly, said Ms Ferrier had “let the cat out of the bag.”
He said: “It is outrageous that nine months after a democratic vote where a clear majority in the country voted against separation Margaret Ferrier thinks that the Scotland Office should be preparing for another referendum
“Nicola Sturgeon’s said before she has no plans for a second referendum, but Margaret Ferrier’s recent comments look like she has let the cat out of the bag.
“Few people will buy the SNP’s claims that they’re not focussing on independence.
“The reality is that right now, people in Rutherglen and Cambuslang are frustrated with missed NHS waiting times and cuts to college places, not another constitutional debate.”
Councillor Robert Brown, who represents Rutherglen South for the Liberal Democrat, also criticised Ms Ferrier, saying: “It really is time for the MP to move on from the referendum.
“The SNP wanted a referendum, they got one, they delayed it by several years to try to get a better result and they still lost.
“The people of Scotland voted decisively in favour of staying in the United Kingdom. That seems pretty clear to me.
“I would urge Margaret Ferrier to get behind reform of the United Kingdom along federal lines as Liberal Democrats have long urged.”
Twitter users also criticised the question when it was posted on Monday night, but some folk were supportive of the MP.
One user wrote: “It’s doing more damage to the people of Scotland with all this Indy talk. Move on and work together!”
But another said: “can’t happen soon enough! Are you all blind to the damage UK Govt is doing?”
A spokesperson for Ms Ferrier’s office said: “As the SNP’s Spokesperson on the Scotland Office, it is for Margaret to scrutinise the activities of that office.
“The Tories have voted down every single amendment to the Scotland Bill, and are attempting to force through English Votes for English Laws, despite having only one MP in Scotland.
“The SNP are not planning another referendum. The other main parties have warned that the Tories risk causing a second referendum, and it is entirely reasonable for Margaret to ask if the Tories are planning for one.”
An SNP spokesperson added: “The timing of any future referendum is entirely a matter for the people of Scotland to decide - the people, not politicians, are in charge at every stage of the process.”
Having your say South Lanarkshire voted against independence last year in the referendum
SNP Margaret Ferrier MP has asked if the UK Government had contingency plans in place for another independence referendum
Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown says the SNP need to move on from last year’s referendum
Labour Rutherglen MSP James Kelly says the cat is out of the bag on the SNP’s plans for another referendum