Nicola Sturgeon responds to leaked committee findings
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Ms Sturgeon was dealt a major blow after a majority of MSPs on the Alex Salmond committee said she misled the inquiry. MSPs are believed to have voted five to four that the First Minister gave inaccurate information about her former ally and political mentor. The committee’s final report is expected to be published on Tuesday.
It is the culmination of a string of allegations on either side of the legal battle that has shaken Scotland in the past months.
Many have noted that the independence campaign could suffer a considerable loss in popularity because of the crisis.
Yet, others are less sure.
Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the separatist Parti Québécois in Canada and a vocal ally of Ms Sturgeon, told Express.co.uk that regardless of the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) internal divisions, the case for independence will live on.
While Mr St-Pierre Plamondon said he was unable to comment directly on the SNP’s ongoing legal battle, from the point of view of Parti Québécois, which has had many disagreements, sentiment and popularity for sovereignty has yet to disappear.
In his first interview with a British or European media outlet since becoming leader last year, Mr St-Pierre Plamondon said: “What we have experienced although we have had issues in the Parti Québécois is that when there’s a genuine rendezvous with history, all the disagreements or legitimate debates evaporate.
“People are involved in democratic parties because they believe in improving their society, they believe in a form of ideal.
“When a genuine rendezvous or meeting with history comes, there’s a tendency to all gather and overcome it, and so it becomes irrelevant.
“Hence the importance of keeping the target in focus, pursuing it seriously and with a lot of determination to win the referendum, and to achieve independence – this all brings people together.
“That is what has happened in the history of the Parti Québécois.”
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The Quebec independence movement continues in its goal of breaking away from Canada despite having previously lost two referendums, the first in 1980, the second in 1995.
The latter it lost by a single percentage point.
Like Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remains vehemently opposed to the idea of independence.
Meanwhile, in response to the MSPs ruling, Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman insisted that the first minister told the truth during her eight-hour evidence session earlier this month.
He told the BBC: “It is clear from past public statements that opposition members of this committee had prejudged the First Minister at the outset of the inquiry and before hearing a word of her evidence.
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“So this partisan and selective briefing – before the committee has actually published its final report – is hardly surprising.”
While it could be interpreted as a hard knock for the First Minister, others have expressed similar opinions to Mr St-Pierre Plamondon.
Robert Johns, Professor in Politics at Essex University who is an investigator on the Scottish Election Study, told Express.co.uk that the First Minister was no longer relevant to Scotland’s independence bid, and so her presence was not a determining factor.
When asked whether he believed there could be a no Sturgeon, no independence scenario, Professor Johns said: “No, I don’t think there could.
“One of the most striking features of the polls, and the surveys that go deeper than the polls, is that there’s been very little shift away from independence.
“There’s been a gradual shift towards it, and there’s absolutely nothing in public opinion that suggests public support for independence is brittle or short lived.
“I think that Sturgeon is an asset for the SNP more than she is for independence, and I think if she were to leave the leadership that would be a potential dent in the SNP depending on who replaced her.
“But I think it would leave little imprint for support for independence.
“And that’s one of the huge lessons from Scottish politics over the last ten years.
“The SNP came to power in Holyrood and then won a majority in the following elections without any increasing support for independence at all.
“The lesson is the SNP and independence are different things, and it’s much harder to change people’s opinions about independence than it is about the party.”
The majority of polls have found that just over 50 percent of Scots support independence, although some carried out in light of the Salmond crisis have revealed a dip in support.
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