Scottish Daily Mail

As virus rages, Stur­geon says: Fo­cus on Indyref2

- By Michael Black­ley Scot­tish Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor UK News · Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · Scottish National Party · Scottish Labour Party · Arbeidersparty · Boris Johnson · Scottish Government · Douglas Ross · Nicola Sturgeon · Anas Sarwar · Pamela Nash

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

Yes­ter­day’s Mail

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.’

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