Ref­er­en­dum halt ‘al­lows SNP to re­build indy case’

Op­po­nents say Stur­geon’s party not lis­ten­ing to vot­ers

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - Gareth Mcpher­son Po­lit­i­cal Re­porter gm­cpher­son@the­courier.co.uk

The SNP have been ac­cused of back­track­ing on Nicola Stur­geon’s prom­ise to fo­cus “on the day job” rather than in­de­pen­dence.

Ian Black­ford, the party’s leader in West­min­ster, said post­pon­ing the sec­ond ref­er­en­dum has al­lowed them to re­build the case for a UK break­away.

Ri­vals pounced on the com­ments say­ing they fly in the face of Ms Stur­geon’s pledge to re­spond to the SNP’s dis­ap­point­ing gen­eral elec­tion show­ing by sharp­en­ing their fo­cus on do­mes­tic pol­icy.

Mr Black­ford told the Sun­day Her­ald: “I think that what has hap­pened as a con­se­quence of Nicola’s state­ment is that we’ve taken away the fo­cus from the timetable now and I’m grat­i­fied that gives us the op­por­tu­nity to ac­tu­ally talk about the fun­da­men­tals and to talk about what an in­de­pen­dent Scot­land would look like. And I wel­come that over the com­ing years.”

Ms Stur­geon last month scotched her timetable for a ref­er­en­dum be­fore Brexit, which is sched­uled to take place in March 2019.

The SNP leader said she would re­dou­ble her ef­forts to keep Scot­land in the Euro­pean sin­gle mar­ket and vowed to spend the sum­mer re-en­er­gis­ing the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s day-to-day pro­gramme.

But amid pres­sure to take a se­ces­sion bal­lot com­pletely off the ta­ble she said there was likely to be an­other one be­fore 2021.

Murdo Fraser, for the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives, said Mr Black­ford’s re­marks prove the “nar­row minded” SNP “will al­ways put in­de­pen­dence first”.

“De­spite vot­ers send­ing them a clear mes­sage this year that they are fed up with them ob­sess­ing over in­de­pen­dence, the SNP just aren’t lis­ten­ing,” the Tory MSP said. “It de­stroys claims from Nicola Stur­geon that her pri­or­ity is any­thing but sep­a­ra­tion, or that she would be get­ting back to the day job.”

Mr Black­ford’s re­booted cam­paign re­volves around pre­sent­ing in­de­pen­dence as a left-wing al­ter­na­tive to Con­ser­va­tive aus­ter­ity.

It comes af­ter Labour’s surge in Scot­land on June 8 was at­trib­uted in part to Jeremy Cor­byn at­tract­ing left­wingers from the SNP.

Scot­tish Labour’s Jackie Bail­lie said: “There is noth­ing left-wing about the case for in­de­pen­dence.

“It would cause £15bn of cuts from day one, lead­ing to turbo-charged aus­ter­ity and pun­ish­ing work­ing fam­i­lies.”

Pic­ture: PA.

Ian Black­ford says post­pon­ing the ref­er­en­dum has taken the fo­cus away from the time­line.

Scot­tish Labour deputy leader Alex Row­ley wants the Gov­ern­ment to lis­ten to the High Court.

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