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Nicola Sturgeon: Process of second referendum ‘must be lawful’

(GilesG Photography/SCDI/PA)
(GilesG Photography/SCDI/PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said a possible second referendum on Scottish independence needs to be lawful, ahead of the launch of an updated prospectus.

In interviews with BBC Scotland’s The Nine and STV News At Six on Monday, Ms Sturgeon confirmed the papers will be a formal launch of a campaign for a second referendum, but would not confirm when any vote would take place.

She said: “I will say more about that in the weeks to come. There’s two issues – two principles, in fact – that are really important in this.

“Democracy is the first. Scottish people gave my party, my Government, a mandate for an independence referendum in the election last year. I intend to honour that.

“The second principle that is really important is rule of law. Any process has to be lawful and legal.”

Ms Sturgeon told The Nine the Scottish Government will have to work out a lawful process to hold a second referendum but reaffirmed her belief it would take place before the end of 2023.

On STV News At Six, Ms Sturgeon conceded the Scottish Parliament does not have the legal right to hold a referendum when asked when it might be.

She said: “My Government was elected with a mandate to deliver an independence referendum – we intend to honour that mandate.”

The paper will be a “scene setter” which will compare the UK and Scotland’s economic and social performance with a range of other European countries.

Ms Sturgeon said: “There have been many changes since the referendum in 2014.

“In many ways, the world is a different place. The UK is certainly a very different place. In fact, I think if we could turn the clock back and people in 2014 could have foreseen the path that the UK would have taken out of the European Union, Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, then Scotland undoubtedly would have voted yes back then.”

Ms Sturgeon said “now would be exactly the right time” for independence due to NHS waiting lists and the cost-of-living crisis, and added: “Independence and the case for it is not abstract.

“It’s not separate from all these big challenges that we face. It’s exactly about how we best equip ourselves to navigate those challenges so that we don’t have our budget set by Westminster but in charge of these decisions ourselves.”

Political opponents hit out at the plans and accused the SNP of focusing on a single issue.

Newly elected MSPs arrive at Holyrood
Scottish Labour’s Pam Duncan-Glancy (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scottish Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy told The Nine: “They have a mandate to do a lot of things but they’re not doing it.

“They have a mandate to end the waiting times crisis in the NHS, to get more people into employment in the NHS, to pay public sector workers properly and to end child poverty.

“They’ve a mandate for all of these things. But the SNP, as they always do, is choosing only to focus on the one mandate that they cared about, and that’s independence.”

On Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon will unveil the first paper in the Scottish Government’s Building a New Scotland series outside Bute House alongside Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie.