Conservatives urge First Minister to uphold ‘Sturgeon Test’ on independence

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The Conservatives have called on Nicola Sturgeon to meet a test in her 2016 Holyrood election manifesto on Scottish independence (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Scottish Conservatives have called on Nicola Sturgeon to stand by a test in her party’s election manifesto on holding a second independence referendum.

At the SNP’s manifesto launch for the 2016 Holyrood election, the First Minister said she would not set a date for a second referendum before there was a majority backing for independence.

Speaking in April 2016, she said: “If there is to be a second referendum, we first have to earn the right to propose it.

“Setting the date for a referendum before a majority of the Scottish people have been persuaded that independence – and therefore another referendum – is the best future for our country is the wrong way round.”

“This summer we will start new work to persuade a majority in Scotland of that case for independence. If we don’t succeed, we won’t have earned the right to propose another referendum.”

However, launching a second independence drive following the 2017 general election, the SNP leader highlighted the manifesto also provided for an independence vote given a material change in circumstances, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU despite voting to remain.

Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said the SNP leader should back “the Sturgeon Test” this week when she is expected to update Holyrood on her plans.

He highlighted a Survation poll for pro-independence group Progress Scotland published in March in which 24% of respondents gave the highest ranking for completely supporting Scottish independence.

However, more than three fifths (63%) of the 2,041 adults in Scotland surveyed said Scotland would be an independent country in the future.

Mr Carlaw said: “At her own manifesto launch, Nicola Sturgeon made her view clear: if people didn’t back independence, she wouldn’t propose a referendum.

“For three years since, she’s tried to use Brexit to demonstrate support for independence and another referendum. Yet even the SNP’s own polls show she has comprehensively failed.

“Even by her own logic, the First Minister has not earned the right to hold another referendum.

“Let’s therefore hope that this week the First Minister stands by her own words, and doesn’t cave in to her activists ahead of SNP conference.

“Nicola Sturgeon should uphold the Sturgeon Test.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said the SNP leader should “keep her promises to voters and listen to the people of Scotland”.

She added: “When Nicola Sturgeon delivers her long-awaited update to parliament she should take the threat of an unwanted and divisive second independence referendum off the table.”

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