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.

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