Sturgeon makes case for second Scottish independence referendum in 2020
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence in 2020, saying there is a "growing sense of urgency" for Scotland to secede from the UK "sooner rather than later".
Sturgeon spoke at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival after a Lord Ashcroft poll revealed a majority of the 1,019 Scots interviewed would vote for an independent Scotland.
She believes Brexit and the willingness of prime minister Boris Johnson to leave the EU with no-deal is dragging Scotland “down a political path" the nation is unwilling to go down.
Speaking to LBC Radio’s Iain Dale, Sturgeon said: "I think there is growing support for independence in Scotland and I think there is, accompanying that, a growing sense of urgency that if we don't want to get dragged down a path, and I'm not just talking about Brexit here…but dragged down a sort of political path that we don't want to go down, then we need to consider becoming independent sooner rather than later.
"Anecdotally, I have been detecting that shift that's shown up in the Ashcroft poll for quite some time now and I think we are now starting to see that manifest itself in the opinion polls.”
She also revealed plans to attempt to bring forward any possible referendum to earlier than 2020 depending on how the Brexit situation unfolds.
Sturgeon has already put forward legislation for a second Scottish independence referendum, but is now giving MSPs an opportunity to debate it.
Opposing parties, including the Scottish Conservatives, have spoken out against a second referendum on Scottish independence with a party spokesperson saying it would be a “divisive” move and that they would oppose it “every step of the way”.
The spokesperson said: "It is time for us all to focus on what matters: growing our economy, and sorting out the mess the SNP is making of our education system and the NHS.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie believes that the promise of an independence referendum has swayed many Scots who voted Remain in the EU referendum of 2016 towards the Scottish National Party, but believes a referendum over Scottish independence would only bring further "chaos".
Rennie said: "Some people seem to be tempted by independence to escape Brexit and the Conservatives cannot be trusted to win them back.
“Boris Johnson's reckless pursuit of a no-deal Brexit has caused great anxiety even though independence would add more chaos onto an already chaotic situation."
The Lord Ashcroft poll revealed on Monday that 46 per cent of the 1,019 Scots asked would vote for independence with 43 per cent in opposition. The rest said that they did not know how they would vote.
Yet ministers in Westminster have remained defiant that a second Scottish independence referendum will not be granted in the near future.
New prime minister Boris Johnson took the time to remind the first minister that the previous Scottish independence referendum in 2014 was a “once in a generation” vote.
But Sturgeon believes the UK government should grant one given the perceived support behind it.
She added: "It's absolutely legitimate to oppose independence, but…when we see polls where a majority want a referendum and want independence, it is not acceptable democratically to say you'll block the right of people in Scotland to choose.
"Frankly they should be getting dogged by that question. What on earth do you think is remotely democratically acceptable in that? I think it's a position that's unsustainable.”
The Ashcroft poll notably suggests that the majority of the 1,019 believe UK withdrawal from the EU does “strengthen the case” for Scotland to become independent.
Sturgeon also made clear to Dale during the interview that there are clear differences between Brexit and the Scottish campaign for independence, when asked why she was in favour of “leaving one union to join another”.
Sturgeon explained: "The union that is the UK and the European Union are not the same. Every member state of the EU is an independent country. If being in the EU was inconsistent with being independent, then you'd have to argue that Germany and France and Spain and Portugal aren't independent.
"You choose as an independent country in an interdependent internationalist world, you choose to pool sovereignty. Independence for Scotland is not an argument for isolation and turning our backs. That's why most people in Scotland oppose Brexit.
“We don't want to turn our backs on Europe or the rest of the world, we want to play a bigger role there, pool sovereignty and work with others where it's in our mutual interest.”