Sturgeon wants to 'cooperate' with PM on fresh independence referendum

Help me break up the United Kingdom, Boris! Nicola Sturgeon says she wants to ‘cooperate’ with PM to hold a fresh independence referendum… despite polls showing most Scots don’t want one now

  • Nicola Sturgeon is due to deliver a speech to the virtual SNP party conference
  • She will say she wants to ‘cooperate’ with Boris Johnson to hold new referendum 
  • Polls show Scots deeply split on independence and her timetable controversial

Nicola Sturgeon will today demand Boris Johnson ‘cooperates’ in holding another independence referendum – despite polls suggesting most Scots don’t want one any time soon.

In a speech to the SNP’s virtual conference, the party leader will urge the PM to get on board with her timetable of holding another national vote by 2023.

As she tries to reassure restive activists that she is chasing the dream of splitting the UK, she will insist that ‘democracy must – and will – prevail’.

Ms Sturgeon and Mr Johnson are engaged in a battle of wills over the SNP’s ambitions, with the previous referendum in 2014 having been billed as ‘once in a generation’.

Polls have shown Scots are divided down the middle on whether to leave the union, but backing for independence has dropped sharply from the height of the pandemic.

A survey last week found just 31 per cent support a vote on the crucial issue in the next two years. 

Ms Sturgeon, who is due to deliver the closing speech of the SNP conference shortly before midday, will say that she wants ‘co-operation not confrontation’ in her attempts to secure a second referendum.  

Nicola Sturgeon (pictured writing her conference speech) will today demand Boris Johnson ‘cooperates’ in holding another independence referendum – despite polls suggesting most Scots don’t want one any time soon

Ms Sturgeon and Mr Johnson are engaged in a battle of wills over the SNP’s ambitions, with the previous referendum in 2014 having been billed as ‘once in a generation’

She is due to say: ‘My approach to government and to politics will be, as far as possible, co-operation not confrontation.

‘The experience of the pandemic and the challenges we face as a result reinforces my view that this is the right approach.

‘So it is in that spirit of co-operation that I hope the Scottish and UK governments can reach agreement – as we did in 2014 – to allow the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland to be heard and respected.

‘But, this much is clear: democracy must – and will – prevail.’

She will add: ‘The United Kingdom is after all a voluntary union of nations.

‘Until recently no-one seriously challenged the right of the people in Scotland to choose whether or not they wished to become independent.

‘Frankly it is not up to a Westminster government which has just six MPs in Scotland to decide our future without the consent of the people who live here.

‘As an independent country, co-operation between Scotland and our friends across the rest of the UK will continue, but it will be on a better basis: Scotland will be an equal partner.’

During an interview with Sky News yesterday, it was suggested to Ms Sturgeon that rather than being concerned about Covid-19, she was waiting until it was politically advantageous.

She admitted that any politician would ‘factor those kind of judgments into those decisions’, adding: ‘I am very confident that when this question is next to put people in Scotland will vote yes.’

She added: ‘My primary consideration is to do what’s right for the country, when is it right.’

Polls have shown Scots are divided down the middle on whether to leave the union, but backing for independence has dropped sharply from the height of the pandemic

The SNP conference has backed a call for another independence referendum at the ‘earliest’ possible moment after the Covid crisis.

The chief executive of the Scotland in Union campaign group, Pamela Nash, said: ‘This is Groundhog Day yet again at SNP conference, with nationalist politicians only interested in talking about the constitution.

‘The First Minister has clearly run out of ideas.

‘If Nicola Sturgeon was serious about believing in co-operation, she would focus on making devolution work and using Holyrood’s powers to build a recovery for everyone.

‘Instead, she is blindsided by her obsession with breaking up our country.

‘Scotland deserves better than a government that prioritises division ahead of devolution.’

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