Boris Johnson needs to support a second Scottish independence referendum sooner rather than later if he is to have “any chance of winning”, Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater has said.
Ms Slater said she “fully expects” next month’s Holyrood election will again see a majority of MSPs returned who support independence.
Her fellow Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has said that in those circumstances, the continued “refusal by the UK to even talk about this would be politically untenable”.
Speaking as the Scottish Greens launched their election manifesto, Ms Slater said: “The speculation I have seen in the media this week is that Boris Johnson is thinking of calling it sooner rather than later. And to be fair that is probably in his interest.
“We know from polling something like 85% of young people between 16 and 24 agree that independence is normal and support Scottish independence, so if he’s got any chance of winning his side of the argument he’s got to call it pretty soon.”
The manifesto commits the Greens to campaigning and voting for a referendum to take place within the five years of the next Holyrood term.
It states: “We believe that the UK Government’s refusal to respect a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament would not be politically sustainable and could be subject to legal challenge.”
Ms Slater said the Covid-19 crisis means her party does not want a referendum to take place until the virus is “under control”.
She said: “We feel during such a referendum it would important for us to campaign effectively, to consult with people, and that means a ground campaign, knocking on doors, and we can’t do that until Covid is eliminated or under control.
“As soon as Covid is under control then I think we could look at doing something, but certainly within this parliamentary term.”
Mr Harvie said: “The Scottish Greens believe in independence for a purpose, to let us build the fairer, greener society we all know is needed.
“We’re committed to building an independent Scotland that is modern, democratic and outward looking, that helps lead the global transition to a zero-carbon society and that plays a positive role as part of the global community.
“A voice on the global stage for peace, justice, human rights and for our planet. A Scotland that rejects the hostile environment of Westminster and is open, inclusive and welcoming to everyone who chooses to make their home here.”
He also said that in the wake of Brexit, leaving the UK is Scotland’s “only route back to EU membership”.