Sturgeon accused of “exploiting” Northern Ireland’s troubles in quest for Scottish independence
NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of “exploiting” Northern Ireland’s troubled history in a bid to boost support for independence.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said Sturgeon had made “crass demands” for Scotland to be “equated with Northern Ireland” in its relationship with the European Union.
However, an SNP spokesperson hit back: “David Mundell playing politics with Northern Ireland is just the latest example of the lack of respect the UK Government has shown to the devolved nations throughout these negotiations.”
The draft Brexit withdrawal agreement avoids a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland through a “backstop” arrangement agreed by the UK Government and the EU.
The backstop would require the whole of the UK forming a single customs territory with the EU, but Northern Ireland would follow the full EU customs code, which would allow businesses to get their goods into the single market in the same way as currently happens.
In an article last week, the First Minister wrote that Northern Ireland had been “guaranteed a special deal to stay close to the EU”.
She wrote: “Scotland must not be left at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to jobs and investment, which is what offering special status for Northern Ireland would do.
“We support moves to protect the Good Friday Agreement in Ireland – but any differential deal for Northern Ireland simply proves that similar arrangements can and should also be made for Scotland.”
Mundell, in comments to a Scottish Conservative gathering in Falkirk yesterday, said the EU would not accept an agreement that does not contain the backstop.
On Sturgeon, he said: “We’ve all grown accustomed to Nicola Sturgeon politicising and exploiting any issue for her political ends and furthering her agenda of having another independence referendum.
“We’d seen it already with Brexit – out of the traps on 24 June 2016 demanding another independence referendum, but this week she reached a new low with her crass demands for Scotland to be equated with Northern Ireland.”
He continued: “It confirmed that nothing is off limits now for Nicola Sturgeon – the sensitivities and unique circumstances of Northern Ireland, its geography, history and culture can be cast aside, if there is some opportunistic political point to be made. The immediate need to generate some divisive grievance is prioritised, the subject matter secondary to the independence cause and the repercussions ignored.”
Mundell added: “Scotland’s circumstances are nothing like those of Northern Ireland.
“Even the SNP used to acknowledge that, speaking out to have the Belfast Agreement upheld, but now none of that seems to matter anymore, compared to the opportunity for tomorrow’s headline, one more seed of division, one more step however achieved on the road to independence.
“We, and Scotland need to be on notice – Scottish politics just got a whole lot uglier. There is nowhere Nicola Sturgeon won’t go.”
The SNP spokesperson added: “Desperate David lost what little remaining credibility he had this week with these ridiculous comments. It’s no wonder even Scottish Tory MPs are queuing up to tell him to quit. We support a differential deal for Northern Ireland in order to prevent a hard border with Ireland, but Scotland shouldn’t be placed at a competitive disadvantage as a result.”
The immediate need to generate some divisive grievance is prioritised, the subject matter secondary to the independence cause
Scottish Secretary David Mundell has gone on attack to defend May’s Brexit deal