Nicola Sturgeon loses Keir Starmer’s support for independence vote in brutal showdown

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Nicola Sturgeon has had her Scottish independence plans destroyed by Sir Keir Starmer who insisted she should be focusing on the coronavirus pandemic. The Labour leader had previously told reporters in January the SNP will have a mandate to hold a second vote if they win the 2021 Holyrood election. But he has since lashed out at the First Minister for her divisive plans.

Speaking to ITV’s Representing Border, Sir Keir said: “I don’t think with a pandemic like this another divisive referendum is what anybody wants.

“That’s why we will be focusing on the issues that really matter going into the next election which is what we’re doing to defeat the virus.

“But also the economic fallout, rebuild the economy and rebuild public services.

“This is about focusing on what really matters in the here and now.”

It comes as fewer than a third of Scots believe an independence referendum should be a priority for the Scottish Government, according to a new poll.

Ms Sturgeon announced earlier this month that a draft Bill setting out the proposed terms, timing and question for another independence vote would be introduced before May’s Holyrood election.

That followed a series of polls suggesting a majority of Scots are now in favour of breaking with the Union.

But a new survey commissioned by the pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union found 63 percent do not think an independence referendum should be a priority for the Government.

Of the 1,008 Scots questioned by Survation, 28 percent said another independence vote should be a priority.

Asked to pick up to three of the most important issues currently facing Scotland, 58 percent said the COVID-19 response and public health, followed by 50 percent who chose the NHS and 41 percent who said social care, economy and jobs.

Constitutional affairs and independence was prioritised by 11 percent of people, ranking it 10th out of the 16 options, behind other issues such as housing, immigration, education and the environment – but ahead of crime and policing, family life and childcare, and transport.

Among SNP voters in the 2019 general election, 35 percent said a second independence referendum is not a priority, while 18 percent ranked constitutional affairs and independence as a top priority for Scotland.

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Looking ahead to next year’s Scottish Parliament election, 72 percent said the debate “should be primarily focused on the economy and public services ahead of other issues such as Scottish independence”.

Scotland in Union chief executive Pamela Nash said: “This poll shows that the SNP has the wrong priorities.

“Rather than obsessing about a divisive second independence referendum, most people in Scotland want their Government to focus on what really matters: our NHS, jobs and schools.

“When barely a quarter of people in Scotland believe another referendum is a priority, it’s time for Nicola Sturgeon to start listening. Even her own supporters are clear that she has her priorities skewed.

“We are stronger together as part of the UK, and as we recover from COVID-19 the Scottish Government has a duty to focus on bringing people together.”

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