IndyRef2: Nicola Sturgeon planning 'endless' independence campaign after she wins Holyrood referendum vote

Laura Hughes

Nicola Sturgeon is planning an “endless” independence campaign to try and force Theresa May to back down over a second referendum, it was claimed after she won a Scottish Parliament vote giving her permission to start talks.

David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, ruled out any referendum until 2020 at the earliest and for as long as 2023 by stating that negotiations could not even start until after Brexit is completed.

But Ms Sturgeon announced she will make a “formal approach” in the next few days to Downing Street for immediate talks and warned she would next month outline steps “to progress the will of parliament” if her demand was rebuffed.

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, said the SNP leader given up governing Scotland and “is now intent of running an endless campaign for another vote that people don't want.”

It is not thought Ms Sturgeon will try and call an advisory ‘wildcat’ referendum or a snap election, meaning a concerted effort to whip up support among Scots for another independence vote is her best chance of forcing Mrs May to back down.

The warning about the First Minister’s tactics came after MSPs voted by a margin on 69 to 59 to give her the authority to enter discussions with the UK Government over transferring the powers for Holyrood to arrange a second referendum. SNP and Green MSPs gave her a majority.

Ms Davidson described the SNP’s decision to press ahead with an “unwanted” referendum as “deeply regrettable” and warned it would only add to the uncertainty in Scotland.

She said: “Today Nicola Sturgeon has said she will outline fresh steps to push ahead with her referendum plans over the coming weeks.

“It provides yet more evidence that this SNP Government has given up on its stated priority to focus on education, and is now intent of running an endless campaign for another vote that people don't want.”

Speaking during a Holyrood debate that preceded the vote, she said most Scots were “sick” of the Nationalists obsessing about independence and argued people in Scotland have the "right to see the Brexit process working in practice" before another vote is staged.

Ms Sturgeon intervened in her speech to claim that Mrs May had bolstered the case for the vote taking place between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

She repeated her claim that the Prime Minister conceded during their meeting the previous day that the UK’s Brexit divorce and trade deals will be agreed by then.

But Ms Davidson poured scorn on her insistence that the Prime Minister had made a significant concession and told the SNP leader to “sit down” when she tried to intervene in her speech a second time.

Ruth Davidson told MSPs Scots were sick of the nationalists' obsession with independence Credit: AFP

Mr Mundell also contested Ms Sturgeon’s claim that autumn 2018 was a “key point” in the Brexit talks and said UK Government did not have a “crystal ball” about when all the deals would be done.

Speaking in the immediate aftermath of the Holyrood vote, the Scottish Secretary told the BBC: “We won’t be entering into any negotiations at all until the Brexit process is complete.

“It’s not appropriate to have a referendum whilst people do not know what the future relationship between the UK and the EU is and they won’t know that until the Brexit process is complete.”

The Telegraph reported a fortnight ago this would mean a delay of up to six years, taking into account the time needed to negotiate an EU trade deal, agree a Section 30 order to transfer the referendum powers to Holyrood, approve the necessary legislation and stage a campaign.

But the First Minister said: “Today’s vote must now be respected. The mandate for a referendum is beyond question, and it would be democratically indefensible – and utterly unsustainable – to attempt to stand in the way of it.

“We will now act on the mandate given to us by parliament by making a formal approach to the UK Government within the next few days, after Article 50 has been triggered.”

Although she refused to spell out her next steps during the debate, calling an advisory referendum risks a court battle as constitutional affairs are reserved and a mass boycott by Unionist voters. An election would risk Holyrood losing its nationalist majority.

She could table at Holyrood her own Section 30 order to transfer the referendum powers but this would not actually happen without Westminster’s consent.

 

5:11PM

Parliament votes for second referendum 

MSPs have voted 69-59 demanding Westminster gives Holyrood the power to hold a second referendum.

4:56PM

SNP close debate...

4:49PM

'A waste of parliamentary time' 

Murdo Fraser, is closing the debate for the Scottish Tories.

He describes the debate as a "waste of parliamentary time" and "disappointing".

The only thing Nicola Sturgeon has achived is making  a Tory Prime Minister popular in Scotland again. 

The Tories will continue to say "no thanks" and speak up for the people of Scotland. 

4:46PM

Sturgeon: Scotland's future should be in Scotland's hands

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warns on the impact of Brexit as she makes her case for a second referendum on independence.

4:39PM

The UK did not vote to leave the single market

Ross Greer, winding up for the Greens, praises the 2014 vote. 

"We should try to replicate its successes and not the failures of 2016", he says. 

On the case for independence in the wake of the Brexit vote, he says: "Not only did Scotland not vote to leave the single market, but the people of the UK did not vote to leave the single market."

4:31PM

'The people say no'

Mike Rumbles , the Lib Dem MSP, accuses Nicola Sturgeon of "making a bad situation worse". 

He says:

The first minister may have the votes in this chamber tonight but she has failed to take the people of Scotland with her.

The people say no.

4:26PM

'By sharing the pain, you share the gain'   

Edward Mountain, the Tory MSP, calls on Nicola Sturgeon to"get on with the day job."

He adds: 

As a former sergeant major used to say, by sharing the pain, you share the gain.

Scotland benefits from being part of the United Kingdom.

We are better together.

4:19PM

'It is not a fair choice' 

Pauline McNeill, the Labour SNP MSP,  says people do not have a clear idea of what an independent Scotland would like. They also don't know what Brexit will look like. 

She says: "It is not a fair choice to put to the Scottish people."

4:01PM

'The greatest collapsed political soufflé of our time'

Jackson Carlaw, a Tory MSP, says he will always oppose a second referendum.

He tells the Chamber: 

Any cook will tell you that both the correct ingredients and the correct timing are essential to get a soufflé to rise. Get either wrong and the whole thing will irretrievably collapse.

In what increasingly has all the characteristics of the greatest Scottish Government miscalculation of the devolution era, Nicola Sturgeon’s gambit of just a fortnight ago, in calling for a second independence referendum has been met with the loudest raspberry from every corner of Scotland.

3:55PM

Ruth Davidson tells Nicola Sturgeon to sit down

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson tells First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to sit down and refuses to let her intervene in the debate on a second independence referendum.

3:51PM

'Get on with the day job'

Johann Lamont, the Labour MSP,  says she is not a nationalist and  will not have her politics defined by the "constitution."

She calls on the SNP to "get on with the day job", adding that "if you do that we will support you."

3:40PM

What does Scotland really think of  Sturgeon's IndyRef2 plans? 

The Scottish Parliament will today vote on whether to hold a second independence referendum before Britain leaves the European Union.

With the Scottish National Party and the independence-backing Greens holding the majority of seats in Holyrood, MSPs are expected to call for a new vote between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.

Despite this, the latest polling shows that the majority of Scottish voters wish to remain in the United Kingdom. Some 56 per cent of Scots would vote No in an independence referendum, according to recent polls. 

Scottish independence polling

Support for Scottish independence is at record highs - even though the Union is still the most popular option

Even though polls suggest Scots would still support the Union in a second referendum, support for Scottish independence is at record highs.

Scottish independence support over time

The referendum helped the SNP at the ballot box

As well as helping the cause for independence, the 2014 Scottish independence referendum also helped the SNP's cause. It gained its largest vote share in any Westminster or Holyrood Parliament a year later, with the Nationalists gaining 50 per cent of the Scottish vote in the 2015 General Election.

The party wasn't quite so successful in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, with the SNP failing to retain its overall majority in Holyrood. Still, at 46.5 per cent, its constituency vote share was up a point on what it achieved at the previous Scottish Parliament election in 2011.

This rise is due to the underlying increase in support for independence in recent years.

SNP support among independence and union voters

Euroscepticism has almost doubled in a decade

Nicola Sturgeon shouldn't celebrate yet, as Euroscepticism has also been increasing at the same time.

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey said that a quarter of Scottish voters want Britain to leave the EU, with another 42 per cent wanting EU powers to be reduced, totalling 67 per cent of people holding Eurosceptic views.

Despite the 62 per cent vote to Remain in Scotland, the country has become more sceptical about the EU in recent years - with support for leaving the EU in Scotland increasing from 10 per cent in 1999 to 25 per cent in 2016.

Chart: Rise of Euroscepticism in Scotland

Unionists have become especially Eurosceptic in recent years

Support for Brexit has shifted from the nationalist to the Unionist camp in the last few years.

In 2013, 24 per cent of independence supporters wanted Brexit, compared with 17 per cent of Union supporters. By 2016, Brexit was backed by 21 per cent of independence supporters and 29 per cent of Unionists.

Even among Scots who want to stay in the EU, Euroscepticism has increased in recent years. In 2013, 29 per cent of Scottish people said that Britain should stay in the EU but reduce its powers - with the figure now increasing to 42 per cent in 2016.

Scottish support for Brexit

 

3:36PM

It is only right Scots have another vote 

Sandra White, the SNP MP,  says Brexit has changed the shape of Scotland's future and that its only fair there is a vote.

She says:

It is only right the people of Scotland are given the choice to choose their future.

We never had any 'division'. We had debate... debate is healthy.

3:32PM

'2014  was not a celebration of democracy'

James Kelly, the Labour MSP, insists that Scotland does not want another referendum.

He hits out at the "aggressive, intimidatory nature of the Yes campaigners" in 2014.

Adding that the result of that referendum "wasn't a celebration of democracy".

3:24PM

Scots face a Tory Brexit

Ben Macpherson, the SNP MSP, says the people of Scotland face two futures. 

He says:  "The people of Scotland face an important choice between independence in Europe or a Tory Brexit."

He says also urges those on both sides of the argument to avoid "divisive" words like "nationalists" and "unionists" .

The MSP says these words are becoming "more meaningless by the day".

3:14PM

'Party before people'

Oliver Mundell, a Tory SNP MP, says Nicola Sturgeon believes she can dictate terms not just to UK government, but also to the people of Scotland.

He says the SNP are putting "party before people."

Adding:

There is no majority support for this proposal in Scotland. I am not sure if Nicola Sturgeon beliveves the people of Scotland are daft.

The truth is that after a decade in power, it is Nicola Sturgeon that thinks she can dictate terms, not just to the UK government, but to the people of Scotland.

3:06PM

'There is a fog of confusion' 

Kate Forbes, an SNP MSP, says there is a "fog of confusion and there is no certainty Scotland's voice will be heard". 

She says Scotland's future should be, now and always, in the hands of the people of Scotland.

The 26 year old receives praise for reciting Gaelic in her speech.

2:56PM

'Brexit broke my heart' 

Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton says the decision to leave the EU broke his heart but it didn't mean it justified leaving another Union.

He says the SNP has rowed away from a commitment to rejoining the EU after independence and warns them that Remain voters will find them out.

He says people don't want another vote and the parties who will back the motion this evening have not met their own tests for another referendum to be held.

The MSP questions the wisdom of breaking the Union because you don't like a particular government and likens it to someone cutting off a limb because it is arthritic in the winter.

Hamilton says he has yet to vote on a Scottish Government bill since being elected last May and he will vote against the motion because he is still proud to be British.

2:48PM

'Another referendum is not welcomed by some voters'

Green MSP Andy Wightman admits his party has been contacted by people not happy at the prospect of another referendum.

"Another referendum is not welcomed by some voters," he says. 

But he insists that the Scottish Green Party is "not nationalist ".

We are Greens, he says. "Our politics is decentralist, autonomous, confederalist and co-operative."

Wightman says his party has a long-standing policy of autonomy for Scotland.

The Greens pledged in their Holyrood election manifesto from last year they would not support a referendum timed for political advantage that people did not want.

It suggested that a petition with a million signatures would be needed.

But Mr Wightman says this was not the only way in which his party could back another referendum.

He says most MSPs would not choose to be where they are and said Brexit was a massive failure of UK statecraft.

He says his party has 'no difficulty' in backing Sturgeon's motion.

2:43PM

'Independence is first, last and everything' 

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale accuses Sturgeon of only being accused of independence.

Sturgeon intervenes claiming her highly complex plan to stay in the single market was a compromise.

Dugdale says independence is 'first, last and everything' for the First Minister.

She accuses the Tories of jeopardising the Union instead of being its protectors and calls on them to show some humility.

She also cites a series of failings of the SNP government, saying each were a scandal and together they represent a 'complete abdication of responsibility' Dugdale says the outcome of the vote is known thanks to the Greens' compliance.

She says the Scottish Government's own figures show Scotland has a £15 billion deficit and that would damage poor working families.

Dugdale challenge the First Minister to roll up her sleeves to get more powers for Scotland instead of spending the next two years campaigning for separation.

She confirms Labour MSPs will vote against another divisive referendum.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale  Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

2:38PM

'It stinks and people aren't buying it'

Davidson cites Alex Neil, a former Scottish Government minister, that Sturgeon should wait until there is public support for a referendum She says Sturgeon knows her proposal is unworkable.

She says "it stinks and people aren't buying it." 

She cites a series of failings in devolved policy areas that have emerged since last week's debate, including cancer waiting times targets Davidson refers to claims that Roseanna Cunningham, the Environment Minister, accused the Tories of being scared of debating independence when the debate was suspended last week.

She says they are not scared but they are sick of it.

Leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson  Credit: JEFF J MITCHELL/AFP 

2:35PM

Tory Scottish leader mocks Sturgeon 

Ruth Davidson says if this debate has served one purpose it has shown why most people don't want the Scottish Government to focus on independence again.

She said the debate, which started last week, has added nothing to human knowledge on independence.

Davidson says the only thing on Sturgeon's agenda on her meeting with Theresa May was to spin a new rationale for her rushed timetable for a referendum.

She says there's no guarantee a trade deal will be done within the First Minister's timetable.

Sturgeon intervenes to say the PM had said a trade deal would be done but Davidson says Theresa May has repeatedly said it would take longer.

She mocks Sturgeon for claiming the PM had taken her into her confidence with different information and causes uproar in the chamber by telling Sturgeon to sit down when she tries to intervene again. 

2:29PM

'Scotland's future should be in Scotland's hands'

Sturgeon says the details of independence would be set out in advance of a vote.

She says she seeks sensible discussion on a referendum after tonight's vote.

The First Minister pledges the Scottish Government will play a full and constructive role in the Brexit talks and says she wants the UK to get the best deal.

If Mrs May refuses to drop her opposition, she says she will set out her next steps to Parliament after the Easter recess, which starts next week.

She closes her speech saying "Scotland's future should be in Scotland's hands".

2:27PM

'Scotland stands at a crossroads' 

Nicola Sturgeon opens debate by calling for MSPs to conduct themselves in a way that is not divisive and not treat the other side as enemies.

She says Scotland stands at a crossroads when Article 50 is triggered tomorrow and change is inevitable.

The First Minister argues there will be damage to trade and living standards and Scottish society and that when the nature of that change becomes known Scots should have the choice of independence.

She argues the question is one of timing and repeats her call for it to be held between autumn 2108 and spring 2019.

Sturgeon says the Prime Minister was clear with her yesterday that the details of the Brexit and trade deals would be known by then.

2:15PM

Daily Mail tells BBC to 'get a life' over 'sexist' Legs-it story​

The Daily Mail has responded to the anger it created by posing the question: "who won legs-it?" on their front page about Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May's Brexit meeting.

The Daily Mail asked critics, including the BBC and the "left-wing commentariat", to "get a life" after their headline made national headlines and caused a storm on Twitter.

More than 300 people complained to press regulator Ipso about the front page splash.

A spokesperson for the paper said: "For goodness sake, get a life! Sarah Vine's piece, which was flagged as light-hearted, was a side-bar alongside a serious political story.

"It appeared in an 84-page paper packed with important news and analysis, a front page exclusive on cost-cutting in the NHS and a health supplement devoted to women's health issues.

"For the record, the Mail was the paper which, more than any other, backed Theresa May for the top job.

Leg'sit gallery

"Again for the record, we often comment on the appearance of male politicians including Cameron's waistline, Osborne's hair, Corbyn's clothes - and even Boris's legs.

"Is there a rule that says political coverage must be dull or has a po-faced BBC and left-wing commentariat, so obsessed by the Daily Mail, lost all sense of humour...and proportion?"

2:13PM

Scots should see how Brexit has worked out in the 'real world'

Nicola Sturgeon will open the debate with a speech that is expected to reiterate her claim yesterday that her meeting with Theresa May bolstered her case for a referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

The First Minister claimed Mrs May told her that both the terms of both the Brexit and trade deals would be known within that timescale.

However, Downing Street sources have rejected this interpretation of Mrs May's comments, saying that Scots should be able to see how Brexit has worked out in the "real world" before another referendum is held.

Expect Ruth Davidson, who is opening for the Scottish Tories, to push back hard on Ms Sturgeon's claims about yesterday's meeting.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Credit: REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

1:47PM

PM only allowed Nicola Sturgeon to speak 'briefly' on vote

It was her big chance to tackle the Prime Minister over Scottish independence, but Nicola Sturgeon was only "briefly" allowed to mention a second referendum before she was shut down by Theresa May, it has been claimed.

The Prime Minister is understood to have dictated terms during their meeting in a Glasgow hotel, running down the clock by talking about Article 50 and a policing exercise before Ms Sturgeon tried to grab her chance at the end of their talk.

But sources made it clear that there was no "substantive" discussion of a referendum because Mrs May had already reiterated her position that "now is not the time".

She instead told the First Minister to forget all thoughts of a second Scottish referendum until voters have seen how Brexit is working "in the real world".

However Mrs Sturgeon insisted that her case for staging the vote within the next two years had been bolstered by Mrs May during their first face-to-face talks since she issued her referendum demand earlier this month.

The First Minister insisted there is no “rational” case for an independence referendum being delayed longer than two years because the Prime Minister told her both the UK’s Brexit and EU trade deals will be known by then.

1:44PM

Theresa May vows to build a 'more united nation' 

Speaking during a visit to Scotland, Mrs May vowed to build a "more united nation" as Britain leaves the European Union (EU).

She also pledged Brexit would not mean the UK "stepping back from the world", insisting she was aiming to build "a new partnership with Europe" while taking the opportunity to build "a more global Britain".

Addressing staff of the Department for International Development in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, Mrs May said: "We stand on the threshold of a significant moment for Britain as we begin the negotiations that will lead us towards a new partnership with Europe.

"I want to make it absolutely clear as we move through this process that this is not - in any sense - the moment that Britain steps back from the world.

"Indeed, we are going to take this opportunity to forge a more global Britain.

In quotes | A second referendum on Scottish independence

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