Nats ‘bounced’ into backing People’s Vote, says Neil
SNP members were “bounced” into supporting a second Brexit referendum after Nicola Sturgeon announced the policy on TV without consulting her party, a former minister and leave supporter has said.
Alex Neil insisted there is “a lot of unhappiness” over the decision to back a so-called People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal without asking MPS and MSPS.
He said: “In a democratic party you have the discussion first and then reach a decision; that did not happen in this case.”
Mr Neil, SNP MSP for Airdrie and Shotts, also said some within the party had told him they didn’t know what they were voting for when they backed a second EU referendum at Holyrood on Wednesday.
The former health secretary told The National: “It should have been put on the agenda well ahead of the SNP conference but unfortunately that didn’t happen.
“I’ve had calls from SNP MSPS who voted for the amendment [on Wednesday], not realising what they were voting for and now regret doing so. I think it’s a lesson for the future in terms of party democracy.
“If the choice is between loyalty to Brussels or loyalty to independence, then independence must come first.””
He said there were a growing number of SNP politicians who were unhappy about a People’s Vote.
It came as SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson spoke out about his concerns after he broke the party whip on Wednesday to vote against supporting a second referendum.
Senior Nationalist MPS Pete Wishart and Angus Macneil have already raised concerns. Mr Gibson said: “Although I voted to remain, in my view a referendum should be binding for a generation unless there is a material change.”
He said a People’s Vote risked setting a precedent which could threaten a future independence vote.
Earlier this year, former justice secretary Kenny Macaskill accused Ms Sturgeon of presiding over a “fundamentally undemocratic” SNP.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of pro-uk campaign group Scotland in Union, said: “These comments confirm without doubt that independence will always be the one and only priority for the SNP.”
Alex Neil has criticised the party’s policy on Brexit.