Kenny MacAskill – an ex-SNP minister who defected to Alex Salmond’s outfit earlier this year – claimed Scotland’s first minister was now locked in a “charade” with the prime minister.
Ms Sturgeon has vowed to push for a “legal” referendum once Scotland is through the Covid pandemic, while Mr Johnson has dismissed the idea of holding another vote soon as “reckless”.
Writing in the Scottish Left Review, Mr MacAskill said both were only interested in keeping “their partisan audience satiated” with empty rhetoric.
“That sterile debate will continue as it suits both SNP and Tory to posture that they’re pushing hard for or defending vigorously respectively – even if the reality is that it’s a charade where both know it’s not happening anytime soon.”
The former justice secretary criticised Ms Sturgeon for previously requesting a Section 30 order from the UK government – the section of the Scotland Act which allows Holyrood to pass laws normally reserved to Westminster.
Mr MacAskill claimed she had “given a veto to Boris Johnson by ceding that a Section 30 order was not only required but the only route”.
Alba had pushed Ms Sturgeon to immediately demand negotiations on independence if the SNP won the recent Holyrood election.
Mr MacAskill also attacked the SNP leader for insisting there could be no independence referendum before a coronavirus recovery.
“Well, how long’s that to be? … It’s not that a recovery’s starting. It’s that the worst is still to come. All [Johnson] has to say is ‘now is not the time’. The first minister has now not only given the prime minister a veto but has allowed him to set the timing.”
Mr MacAskill – one of two SNP MPs who defected to Alba before the election – raised eyebrows among nationalists last week when he suggested it may be time to consider “home rule” for Scotland.
The MP for East Lothian suggested that giving the Scottish government a raft of new powers could help “break the logjam” and resolve the “constitutional impasse”.
“Surely this is the time to build a coalition for such a proposal, undermining neither independence nor the Union but yet facilitating necessary progress for our land,” he wrote in The Scotsman.
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