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Scottish Greens ‘will fight next election as de-facto independence referendum’

Party co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie (PA)
Party co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie (PA)

The Scottish Greens have vowed to fight the next general election as a “de-facto independence referendum” if plans to stage a vote next year are blocked.

At a meeting of the party’s national council on Sunday, the Greens said if there was no second referendum in October 2023 on the future of Scotland’s place in the UK, it would fight the election on the constitutional question.

Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, the Scottish Greens’ co-leaders, said in a statement: “The people of Scotland have repeatedly returned pro-independence majorities to Holyrood and Westminster.

Scottish independence
Patrick Harvie and Nicola Sturgeon (Russell Cheyne/PA)

“They must have their say.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said last month that she intends to hold another independence referendum on October 19 2023, but only if the Supreme Court ruled it was legal.

The policy brings the Scottish Greens in line with the SNP, who have also said the next general election would be fought on the single issue if an independence vote is shot down.

But Liz Truss pledged on Sunday there would be no second referendum if she wins the Tory leadership contest.

“Scottish nationalists accepted that their referendum was a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and I will hold them to that,” she said.

Mr Harvie and Ms Slater, whose party aims to stand a candidate in every constituency for the first time, said: “Our preference is still for a referendum to take place in October 2023.

“Should that prove impossible, then we will contest the next UK general election as a de-facto referendum.

“In that circumstance we want to put the unique Green case for independence to every voter in Scotland.

“And every vote cast on that basis will count as a vote for Scotland to become a Green and independent country.”

Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said the “Greens sound more like the SNP every day”.

The MSP added: “They promised to cut rail fares but forced them up. They promised more public transport but it has been chaos. Now they wouldn’t even put the climate first during an election campaign.

“This Green Party must be the only one anywhere in the world to abandon its traditions and swap environmentalism for nationalism.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of pro-UK group Scotland in Union, said there was “no such thing as a de-facto referendum”.

“People vote for parties in an election on a whole range of issues, and the next election will be about the economy, the climate emergency and many other topics,” she said.

“Just like Nicola Sturgeon, the Greens are acting against the will of the people of Scotland.

“Poll after poll shows that the vast majority of us do not want a second referendum, and want the government to focus on what really matters.

“Rather than divide the people of Scotland, as part of the UK we can invest more in public services, work together to tackle the climate emergency, and unite our people and communities.”