Boris Johnson’s claim that SNP leaders said the first independence referendum was “once-in-a-generation” was “misleading”, a Scottish pro-independence newspaper has said.
In his letter ruling out Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for the Scottish Parliament to be issued powers to declare a second referendum, Mr Johnson claimed Ms Sturgeon and her predecessor, Alex Salmond, “made a personal promise that the 2014 independence referendum was a ‘once-in-a-generation’ vote”.
The prime minister’s words were repeated by various media outlets - including Yahoo News UK - but pro-independence news outlet The National said Mr Johnson misrepresented such comments in a “fact check” piece on Tuesday.
It acknowledged that while Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon used the phrases “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and “once-in-a-generation opportunity” during the campaign, the context to these comments is just as important.
Today I have written to Nicola Sturgeon. The Scottish people voted decisively to keep our United Kingdom together, a result which both the Scottish and UK Governments committed to respect.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 14, 2020
Let's make 2020 a year of growth and opportunity for the whole of the UK 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/JjQp3X2J2n
The paper pointed to a 2013 statement by Salmond: “The debate we are engaged in as a nation is about the future of all of us lucky enough to live in this diverse and vibrant country. It is a rare and precious moment in the history of Scotland - a once-in-a-generation opportunity to chart a better way.”
It then said the premise of Salmond’s statement was “not agreeing to some alleged, one-off constitutional device – to be used once then locked away in a cupboard for 40 years. Rather he is encouraging the Scottish electorate to seize a particular opportunity (‘a rare and precious moment in the history of Scotland’) to oppose austerity and make a fairer Scotland.”
It also pointed to the Smith Commission report published two months after the referendum which said: “It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose.”
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The article - which was The National’s most-read on Tuesday evening - deemed the “once-in-a-generation” comment as “false and deliberately misleading”.
Responding to Mr Johnson’s rejection letter on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon said “the Westminster union cannot be sustained without consent” and that “democracy will prevail”.