‘Give it a rest Nicola!’ Douglas Ross demands Sturgeon focus on five issues over indyref2

Nicola Sturgeon squirms over independence referendum timeline

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Nicola Sturgeon has urged the Prime Minister to “be a democrat” as she claimed her government has an “indisputable mandate” for another vote on independence. The SNP leader kicked off a new campaign for another vote on Tuesday with the release of a document laying out the economic and social differences between Scotland and other small countries, attributing the deficit to not having the full powers of an independent country. But Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross has highlighted five Scottish issues which need attention more than independence.

Speaking to ITV’s Border, Mr Ross said: “They have never given up on their desire to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK and what I would say to Nicola Sturgeon and the rest of the SNP is give it a rest.

“Focus on the issues that really matter to people like our recovery from Covid, creating jobs, improving our education, supporting our NHS, making sure the services within the remit of the Scottish government are delivering for people across Scotland.

“Right now they are not because Nicola Sturgeon’s eye is off the ball again because she’s too focused on separating our country and dividing us all over again.”

Ms Sturgeon has promised a “significant update” in the near future on how such a vote could be held without the powers being granted by Westminster.

She recalled that when she was re-elected as First Minister last May it was on a “clear commitment to give the people of Scotland the choice of becoming an independent country”.

Ms Sturgeon also noted Holyrood has a “decisive majority” of MSPs in favour of independence, arguing as a result that “the Scottish Parliament therefore has an “indisputable democratic mandate”.

She claimed if the UK Government “had any respect at all for democracy” it would grant a Section 30 order, allowing a legally binding referendum to be held, as happened in 2014.

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The First Minister conceded that the right of the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a referendum was “contested”, adding that she remains open to negotiations with the UK Government on granting of the necessary powers.

“I stand ready to negotiate a Section 30 order, if you decide that you now are a democrat,” she said, addressing the Prime Minister directly during a press conference at Bute House in Edinburgh.

“I have to say, the evidence of that up to date is not promising, but I’ll set out what we do in those circumstances if he continues to deny democracy very soon.”

But the First Minister also said the Scottish Government would have to look for a way to hold another vote if such an order was not forthcoming from the UK Government.

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“My duty, as the democratically elected First Minister, is to the people of Scotland, it is not to Boris Johnson or to any Tory prime minister,” she said.

“This is a UK Government that has no respect for democracy.

“That means if we are to uphold democracy here in Scotland we must forge a way forward, if necessary, without a Section 30 order.”

Throughout her speech in Bute House and in her answers to journalists, the First Minister accepted that Scotland becoming independent does not guarantee that things will improve.

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