News | Published January 05 2020

Mandate for Indyref2 under dispute with Section 30 Order unlikely under Johnson ministry

While December’s general election yielded a significant victory for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, the outlook in Scotland could not have shown more of a contrast. The SNP increased its contingent of MPs in Westminster to 48, with the Tories losing more than half of their Scottish constituencies.

It leaves the Tories with six Scottish MPs, down from 13 two years before.

Following the outcome of the election, Scottish first minister and SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, said that the result “renews, reinforces and strengthens” the mandate for a new referendum on Scottish independence, adding that it was clear Scotland had chosen to take a different course than that which the UK will embark on after Brexit.

Sturgeon said: "It is clear that the kind of future desired by the majority in Scotland is different to that chosen by the rest of the UK.

"Scotland has rejected Boris Johnson and the Tories and, yet again, we have said no to Brexit."

Sturgeon said that she would formally request a Section 30 order to grant Holyrood powers for a second referendum, but in the aftermath of the national poll, re-elected prime minister Boris Johnson quickly poured cold water on the prospect.

During a call with the Scottish first minister, Johnson reiterated that the result of the original referendum five years ago “should be respected.”

A spokesperson from Number Ten said: "The Prime Minister spoke to First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon…where he reiterated his unwavering commitment to strengthening the union.

"On Brexit, the Prime Minister said that he is now in a position to get this done in a way that allows the whole of the UK to move forward together, providing certainty for Scottish businesses and improving the lives of people right across Scotland.

"The Prime Minister made clear how he remained opposed to a second independence referendum, standing with the majority of people in Scotland who do not want to return to division and uncertainty.

"He added how the result of the 2014 referendum was decisive and should be respected.”

The mandate for a second independence referendum has come under dispute in Scotland also. The SNP secured 45 per cent of the vote in Scotland overall, with head of pro-UK campaign group Pamela Nash adamant that this means the mandate is not there for another “divisive” referendum.

Nash said: "This election result is not a mandate for a divisive second independence referendum.

"Despite the seats won, a majority of people in Scotland, 54 per cent, voted for pro-UK parties."

Furthermore, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said following the election that the result of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum should apply for "a generation".

Gove said: "In this general election we have just seen what happens when politicians try to overturn a referendum result, and in the same way we should respect the referendum result in 2014 in Scotland. Scotland is stronger in the United Kingdom."

However, at a press conference in Edinburgh, Sturgeon said: "This is not about asking Boris Johnson or any other Westminster politician for permission.

"It is an assertion of the democratic right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future.”

Sturgeon will remain determined to ensure Scottish people are given a choice over that future, but while consent from Westminster is required to grant a Section 30 order, it seems unlikely that such a referendum will take place when Boris Johnson, who favours healing the political divisions in the UK, has the final say.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
January 05 2020

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