Scottish Greens: Indyref2 must take place before end of Brexit transition period

By Lewis McKenzie, PA Scotland Political Reporter

The Scottish Greens have said it would be a “mistake” for a Scottish independence referendum to be delayed until after a Brexit transition period.

Speaking at the party’s manifesto launch in Glasgow on Monday, co-leader Patrick Harvie said it would be reasonable to give voters the choice on whether Scotland should become independent as the UK negotiates its departure from the EU.

Boris Johnson has insisted he will take the UK out of the EU by January 31 if he wins the upcoming General Election, with an expected transition period of one year.

Patrick Harvie
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie set out his party’s manifesto at an event in Glasgow (Lewis McKenzie/PA)

Mr Harvie said while Brexit can still be stopped, people in Scotland should be given a say on the country’s future while the UK’s future relationship with the EU is being debated.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also said she wants to hold another vote on Scottish independence in the latter part of 2020 but Mr Harvie said the timescale suggested by the Greens had not been agreed in co-ordination with the SNP.

“It’s certainly not co-ordinated but I think it is entirely rational,” he said of the proposed timescale for another Scottish independence referendum.

“Scotland didn’t vote for Brexit, Scotland certainly didn’t vote – I actually think almost nobody in the UK voted – for the hard Brexit cliff-edge that’s being promised by Boris Johnson outside of the single market and outside the customs union, the abolition of a great many of our rights and protections and a deregulation agenda.”

He added: “Greens including Ross Greer were part of the legal case demonstrating that Brexit can be unilaterally stopped, we’ve got that power, we’ve got that if you want to call it a backstop, we can stop Brexit altogether.

“If it isn’t stopped, it’s perfectly reasonable to say that on that timescale, that transition timescale when every other country in Europe has a say on our future, when the UK has a say on our future, Scotland should also have a say in its own future.

“If Scotland was to vote for independence within that timescale, then you have the option of ensuring that our transition to EU membership as an independent country can be smoothed.

“I think it would be a mistake to leave it until after that transition period had ended. So it’s an entirely reasonable ask.

“I do think, however, and I want to stress this, Brexit can be stopped, should be stopped and we absolutely commit to ensuring that Green voices will advocate for the public to have the final say on any Withdrawal Agreement that any UK Government wants to promote.”

Mr Harvie also said it was a regret his party are not standing in every constituency across Scotland, with 20 candidates registered, but he urged voters to press all candidates in the election on their climate action.

“I do regret that we don’t have a Green candidate in every constituency but that’s why the slogan – ‘Demand Climate action’ – on the front of our manifesto is relevant everywhere,” he said.

“Demand climate action by voting Green if you can. If you don’t have a Green candidate in your local area, demand climate action of all of your candidates.

“And that doesn’t just mean ask them what are the standard environment talking points that have been provided to them by party office, ask them how they’re going to push their own parties beyond their comfort zone.”