Scots face ‘stark choice’, Robertson says ahead of Holyrood independence debate

The Scottish Government will continue setting out what it says is a detailed blueprint for independence – with the country’s Constitution Secretary insisting there is a “stark choice” between remaining part of the UK and a different future outside of it.

Angus Robertson made the comments ahead of the first Holyrood debate of 2023 on the Government motion titled “People’s Right to Choose – Respecting Scotland’s Democratic Mandate”.

SNP ministers in Edinburgh have already been criticised for using the opening of the debate to discuss the constitution instead of the growing pressure on the NHS, with Scottish Conservative Tory leader Douglas Ross branding this choice “completely bonkers”.

However, Mr Robertson insisted that while it is “barely one week into the 2023”, the “stark choice facing people in Scotland is already clear”.

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His comments came as he told how the Scottish Government would continue to make the case for independence despite the UK Supreme Court ruling in November that another referendum could not be held without Westminster’s consent.

Since then, polls have shown a rise in support for independence – with several surveys finding a majority for this.

Mr Robertson said: “If the Westminster parties were hoping that in 2023 they can just put Scotland back in its box, then they have another thing coming.

“The stakes for Scotland have never been higher – the SNP will never give up on Scottish democracy and we will never stop fighting for a better future for the people of Scotland as an independent European nation.”

Tuesday’s debate at Holyrood will see MSPs asked to reaffirm the belief “that the people of Scotland have the right to determine the form of government best-suited to our needs”, Mr Robertson said.

The Constitution Secretary said: “We are barely one week into 2023 but the stark choice facing people in Scotland is already clear.

“On the one hand, the Westminster parties increasingly agree on issues such as austerity and Brexit – any change at Westminster will change little for Scotland.”

With the UK Government currently planning legislation to enforce minimum service levels in several sectors, including the health service, rail, education, fire and border security, Mr Robertson said “draconian changes” to workers’ rights should “set alarm bells ringing”.

Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson insisted Scotland could have a ‘different future’ (Andy Buchanan/PA)
Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson insisted Scotland could have a ‘different future’ (Andy Buchanan/PA)

He added that the proposals “make plain how limited this devolution settlement is, who is actually in charge of it and how determined the Tories are to dismantle it”.

He insisted that “Scotland can have a different future”, with the Constitution Secretary saying recent papers produced by the Scottish Government “show exactly what Scotland could do with the full powers of independence”, which could lead to new legislation to “strengthen the rights of workers with flexible working and better industrial relations”.

Mr Robertson added: “These priorities are the polar opposite of the latest proposals by the Tories at Westminster.

“Increasingly, the evidence shows that the failing Westminster economic model is holding Scotland back and will continue making us all poorer.

“No wonder the majority in favour of Scotland choosing a different future is growing.

“By contrast, over the next few months the Scottish Government will continue setting out a detailed blueprint for how an independent Scotland could thrive under a new economic model, based on our abundant renewable energy resources, a new social partnership approach, a migration policy tailored to our needs and becoming a member of the EU in our own right.

“It is precisely when so much is at stake that the people of Scotland should be trusted to decide their own constitutional future.

“That is why this week we will ask Scotland’s Parliament to reflect on what the Supreme Court judgment means and reaffirm its belief that the people of Scotland have the right to determine the form of Government best suited to our needs.”