Scottish paper seizes on Boris Johnson's 'misleading' claim SNP said first independence referendum was 'once-in-a-generation'

RETRANSMITTED CORRECTING BYLINE Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomes Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside Bute House in Edinburgh ahead of their meeting.
Boris Johnson with Nicola Sturgeon last year (PA)

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.

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”.

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