Po­lit­i­cal and busi­ness chiefs unite to warn against Indyref

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Gareth Rose

BUSI­NESS and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers yes­ter­day joined forces to de­mand the SNP rule out a sec­ond vote on sep­a­ra­tion for at least four years.

As the Na­tion­al­ists gather in Glas­gow to­day for their au­tumn con­fer­ence, they were urged to fo­cus on run­ning the coun­try.

The calls come as poll­ster Pro­fes­sor John Cur­tice pre­dicted that Nicola Stur­geon may be se­cretly plan­ning to ‘kick in­de­pen­dence into the long grass’.

The First Min­is­ter will speak on the event’s fi­nal day on Tues­day.

Colin Bor­land, head of de­volved nations at the Fed­er­a­tion of Small Busi­nesses, said: ‘There will be lots of things small busi­nesses want to hear, but talk of an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum is un­likely to head the list.’

CBI Scot­land direc­tor Hugh Aitken added: ‘Fo­cus must be on boost­ing the econ­omy... [and] get­ting on with im­ple­ment­ing the Bar­clay Re­view rec­om­men­da­tions on busi­ness rates.’

Se­nior politi­cians also urged Miss Stur­geon to for­get a vote. Scot­tish Sec­re­tary David Mun­dell said Scot­land needs ‘sta­bil­ity’ to ‘fo­cus on do­mes­tic is­sues and the chal­lenge of Brexit’.

Scot­tish Labour leader Alex Row­ley said peo­ple have ‘had enough of con­sti­tu­tional de­bate while hos­pi­tals and schools suf­fer’, while Lib Dem leader Wil­lie Ren­nie asked Miss Stur­geon to ‘com­mit to no Indyref 2 un­til af­ter the 2021 elec­tion, at least’.

He added: ‘Give busi­nesses a de­gree of sta­bil­ity [and] par­lia­ment the time and space to de­bate real is­sues like ed­u­ca­tion.’

Miss Stur­geon has agreed not to push for a sep­a­ra­tion vote un­til af­ter Brexit terms are known.

But Pro­fes­sor Cur­tice, a po­lit­i­cal ex­pert at Strath­clyde Univer­sity, said: ‘[She may] fo­cus on the pos­si­bil­ity of a sec­ond EU ref­er­en­dum rather than in­de­pen­dence. Such a move would en­able her to kick it into the long grass.’

Yes­ter­day, Deputy First Min­is­ter John Swin­ney said the SNP ‘will con­tinue to make the strong case for Scot­land to have in our own hands all the pow­ers we need to build an even bet­ter coun­try’.

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