Nicola Sturgeon's voting plans criticised by Vine panelist
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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she has no plans to call a separate referendum on whether an independent Scotland should join the European Union. She said a “detailed prospectus” would be put to Scots ahead of any second independence referendum, and she claimed most people would want to be part of the EU again. She was pressed on the issue as she launched the SNP manifesto for May’s Holyrood election at the end of April.
Ms Sturgeon: “That’s not my policy.
“Just as in 2014 when people had a detailed prospectus on which to base their vote, that is my intention for a future independence referendum too.”
She insisted the case for independence is “winning hearts and minds across Scotland almost every single day”.
In a surprising turn of events, though, a few weeks later, Mike Russell, the Scottish Constitution Secretary, disputed Ms Sturgeon’s claims, insisting it would depend on the circumstances at the time whether to hold such a vote.
He also claimed it could be “desirable” to ask Scots about rejoining the EU.
Mr Russell, who is also SNP president, said his personal view was it was not necessary but “there are circumstances in which you could say it would be desirable”.
The Scottish Tories said the SNP’s mixed messages showed its EU policy was “shallow and unclear”.
A map detailing the strength of the 2016’s Remain/Leave vote across the nation suggests Ms Sturgeon could indeed risk split her country apart if she does not hold a referendum on the issue.
While every council in Scotland saw Remain majorities five years ago, the split varied greatly.
Moray voted “Remain” by a 50.1 percent margin.
It had the biggest percentage for Leave out of all the Scottish council areas and the narrowest margin of victory for either side anywhere in the UK.
Aberdeenshire, Angus, Eileen Siar and the Highland also saw a significant number of people voting Leave (45 percent, 44.7 percent, 44.8 percent and 44 percent respectively).
Moreover, while 85 percent of Scots voted in the Scottish independence referendum only 67 percent voted in the EU referendum; the second lowest regional participation in the vote.
Polling conducted by Opinium at the end of March revealed 53 percent of Scots would not want to rejoin the EU fully.
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Fourteen percent said they wanted a closer relationship while remaining out of the EU, 16 percent said they wanted a more distant relationship, while 12 percent said they were happy with the current set up.
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Alan Winters, director of the Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, warned Ms Sturgeon, independence will be more costly than Brexit.
He also argued there is something “very perverse” in wanting to end a 300-year-old union in favour of the EU.
Mr Winters said: “It would be costly on both sides.
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“More costly for the Scots for sure but it would also be a massive, massive political distraction.
“I also think the majority of people around the world would perceive this as English nationalism driving away the Scots, which is a rather unsympathetic view.”
According to Mr Winters, trade patterns would not necessarily change in case of independence, but “the amount of trade would go down and incomes would go down”.
When asked if a Scottish break-away would be more expensive than Brexit, Mr Winters added: “Absolutely.
“There is something very perverse in saying ‘you dragged us out of a union which has been going on for 50 years.
“Therefore we are going to pull out a union which has been going on for 300 years.”
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