PM re­fuses to al­low sec­ond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum

The Guardian - - National - Libby Brooks Scot­land correspond­ent

Ni­cola Sturgeon has dis­missed Boris John­son’s po­si­tion on Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence as “un­sus­tain­able and self-de­feat­ing” af­ter he wrote to her to re­ject her re­quest for a trans­fer of pow­ers nec­es­sary to hold a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum.

Scot­land’s first min­is­ter said: “The West­min­ster union can­not be sus­tained with­out con­sent. Democ­racy will pre­vail. The only ques­tion is how long it will take the Tories and the rest of the West­min­ster es­tab­lish­ment to ac­cept that in­evitabil­ity.”

The Scot­tish Na­tional party leader wrote to John­son on 19 De­cem­ber to re­quest the pow­ers to stage another ref­er­en­dum un­der sec­tion 30 of the 1998 Scot­land Act.

When Sturgeon con­firmed she had made the re­quest, a week af­ter se­cur­ing 47 of Scot­land’s 59 West­min­ster seats with an in­creased vote share of 45% in De­cem­ber’s gen­eral elec­tion, she said she “fully ex­pected to get a flat no” from West­min­ster ini­tially.

John­son said yesterday he had “care­fully con­sid­ered and noted” Sturgeon’s ar­gu­ments but ar­gued: “Another in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum would con­tinue the po­lit­i­cal stag­na­tion that Scot­land has seen for the last decade, with Scot­tish schools, hos­pi­tals and jobs again left be­hind be­cause of a cam­paign to sep­a­rate the UK.”

John­son stated that he “can­not agree to any re­quest for a trans­fer of power that would lead to any fur­ther in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dums”, ap­pear­ing to rule out another vote even if there is a pro-in­de­pen­dence ma­jor­ity in next year’s Holy­rood elec­tions.

Re­spond­ing to John­son, Sturgeon ac­cused the Tories of be­ing “ter­ri­fied of Scot­land hav­ing the right to choose our own fu­ture” ... It is not po­lit­i­cally sus­tain­able for any West­min­ster gov­ern­ment to stand in the way of the right of the peo­ple of Scot­land to de­cide their own fu­ture and to seek to block the clear demo­cratic man­date for an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum.”

Sturgeon said the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment would set out its next steps this month, when it will ask the Holy­rood par­lia­ment to again en­dorse the stag­ing of a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum.

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