Former SNP MSP warns party that holding second referendum before Brexit would be ‘foolhardy’

A SECOND independence referendum before the UK leaves the EU would be “untenable”, says a former SNP MSP.

Chic Brodie believes it would be “foolhardy” to press ahead with a poll until the facts about Brexit become a lot clearer.

Mr Brodie – who quit the SNP last week after claiming he was fed up of “petty tribal politics” – said the Yes camp had to develop an “impenetrable” economic case for independence, correcting the mistakes of the 2014 campaign such as the currency position.

Veteran SNP figures, including former cabinet secretaries Kenny MacAskill and Alex Neil, have already cautioned against rushing into a second referendum.

And Mr Brodie, a former South of Scotland MSP, said he was worried about the timing of another poll.

“We are confusing people if we say independence is highly likely if Brexit is a ‘hard Brexit’,” he said.

“We don’t know what kind of Brexit we are getting, and we don’t know how long Brexit will take.

“Holding an indyref2 before Brexit is untenable.”

Chic Brodie
Chic Brodie

And he suggested the SNP’s growth commission, created to look at economic policy in the context of independence, was limited in what it could achieve in the short term.

“There are good people on it but you will not resolve what we need to unless we take a long, hard look at key elements such as the structure of the economy – this takes time,” said Mr Brodie.

“I can’t see the UK Government agreeing to a referendum while Brexit is on the table, nor do I think an advisory referendum is advisable until we are absolutely rock-solid on the issues an independent Scottish Government would have to grapple with.

“It would be foolhardy to hold a referendum until the Brexit thing is quite clear. You can take the Ivan Rogers position and say that it will take 10 years – I suspect it won’t be quite that long, but I don’t see the immediate rush.”

Mr Brodie added: “Given what happened in the last referendum, we have to come up with impenetrable arguments on the economy.

“The 2014 White Paper left some challenges, clearly currency being one, and we can’t afford to go the next time without a very hard position on the economy.

“If that means taking a bit longer getting your ducks in a row then that’s what we should do.”

Last week, Nicola Sturgeon said a “soft” exit from the European Union might persuade her to put plans for another referendum within the next two years on the back burner.

However, the First Minister also said it was a “reasonable assessment” to suggest that indyref2 was more likely than a soft Brexit, and previously indicated a hard Brexit would make a second referendum “highly likely”.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson last night called for a halt to the referendum debate.

She said: “The First Minister should act in the interests of the country by recognising the decision Scotland made two years ago and respecting that result.”