Scottish Daily Mail
As virus rages, Sturgeon says: Focus on Indyref2
NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of putting her party before the response to the pandemic by saying the Nationalists should ‘focus all our efforts’ on independence.
She will open the SNP’s three- day virtual annual conference today by telling activists separation is ‘in clear sight’ – and that she has ‘never been more certain’ it will happen.
Extracts of her speech issued last night refer only fleetingly to the battle against Covid-19 remaining the ‘primary focus’. It comes after
Miss Sturgeon said she wants a referendum in the early part of the next term of parliament following May’s election – possibly next year.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said: ‘Nicola Sturgeon pays lip service to the pandemic then goes straight back to banging the drum for her selfish obsession with dividing families, communities and our country.
‘We are still counting the cost – and deaths – from Covid and the SNP’s top brass are shamelessly demanding another independence referendum as soon as possible. They’re putting their party before the pandemic when their top priority should be moving the country on from this crisis. It’s a disgrace that they’re wasting taxpayers’ cash preparing another Referendum Bill. It would add insult to injury if they diverted more vital resources away from Scotland’s recovery effort.’
Miss Sturgeon is due to give the opening address this afternoon and will close the event with her leader’s speech on Monday.
Opening the conference, she will say: ‘While our primary focus must remain on eliminating Covid-19 from our shores – for which we have renewed hope – Scotland must be ready for what comes next. And I know we will be.’
She will add: ‘ Over the next few months, let us reach out – to all of Scotland – like never before.
‘Independence is in clear sight – and with unity of purpose, humility and hard work I have never been so certain that we will deliver it.
‘The people of Scotland have the right to choose their future. Let’s now focus all our efforts on making sure we bring about that better country they deserve.’
But Scottish Labour constitution spokesman Anas Sarwar said: ‘This proves that Nicola Sturgeon only
Sturgeon: I’m not ruling out a second Indy vote next year
has one priority. In the midst of a global pandemic, when people are losing their jobs and saying goodbye to loved ones, it is insulting that she wants to focus on independence.
‘The people of Scotland want her to prioritise the NHS, education and the economy.’
It comes as a report published yesterday by the These Islands pro-Union think-tank found Boris Johnson was regarded negatively by the voters, who described him as ‘bumbling’, while Miss Sturgeon is thought of more positively.
But it concluded that voters have been ‘skilfully misinformed’ about the economics of independence, and said support for separation is based on ‘faith and fact- denial’. Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in
Union, said: ‘Issuing a rallying cry f or i ndependence when people across Scotland are struggling with the devastating impact of the pandemic is deeply insulting.
‘The next few years must be all about recovery from coronavirus, and that should be the entire focus for the Scottish Government.’