Sturgeon savaged over 'dark' Ukraine-IndyRef parallel
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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been pushing for a second vote on Scottish independence since the coronavirus pandemic waned. However, Boris Johnson has rebuffed calls for a second vote, citing the “once in a generation” claim made during the 2014 referendum, in which Scotland voted to remain part of the UK.
Government ministers appear reluctant to grant a vote, so any referendum that the SNP hold may not be deemed as official.
According to the Scottish Express, two officials on differing pay scales are working on legislation to bring forward a second independence vote.
Two officials in different pay bands are working on laws to bring forward a second independence vote, set to be introduced at Holyrood soon as the cost of living crisis deepens.
The new recruits will be salaried between £26,000 and £77,000, but it is understood the two will be on higher wages due to the legal nature of their work.
As such, the new officials – who will be employed to actively work against the union – will be paid at least £100,000 combined out of taxpayer coffers.
This is in addition to a further senior civil servant and fourteen other officials dealing with a separate referendum bid at a cost of £900,000 – bringing the total to at least a million pounds.
The devolved administration has reportedly stayed quiet on whether the officers have been asked to give an opinion on the legislation they are drafting.
It is common practice for legal experts to assess a bill over its likelihood to be struck down by the courts.
Given Westminster has so far expressed no intention to allow an official vote to take place, there are doubts over whether the SNP’s bid to table legislation will lead anywhere.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, commented: “It’s astonishing that the SNP is putting civil servants to work on an independence prospectus and a legal case for when it inevitably ends up in court.
“We are facing the biggest hit to living standards in decades. It’s time for all hands on deck.
“SNP ministers have shown zero concern for wasting public money on strung-out legal battles. The lawyers may be rubbing their hands with glee but the public wish they would get on with what really matters.”
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Meanwhile, Donald Cameron, the Scottish Tories’ constitution spokesperson, said: “The last thing Scotland needs now is another referendum.
“When our focus should be on rebuilding and investing in public services, it is unacceptable certain officials’ time and resources have been dedicated to plans to divide us all over again.
“The people of Scotland have made it clear they don’t want another referendum. We don’t even know what legal advice the Scottish Government have taken on this bill.
“That makes it all the more remarkable that such an effort is going into legislation.”
However, Ms Sturgeon has recently claimed that the cost of living crisis gripping the nation following the pandemic highlighted the need for Scottish independence.
She said: “I’ve set out the fact work is underway for that [referendum] and the timescale has not changed.
“We’re living through times more serious in terms of people’s abilities to feed their kids and heat their homes than most of us have ever experienced.”
Ms Sturgeon believes that the SNP’s success in recent local elections gave the party a renewed mandate to push for an independence vote – however, recent polling on the subject suggests the two sides have stagnated in public opinion, with a narrow margin in favour of unionism.
Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, has indicated that the Government would not consider allowing another referendum unless polling suggested a ‘yes’ vote of 60 percent or higher and was sustained for a year.
He added: “The SNP would only have to win once if we just keep asking the question.”
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