Sturgeon ‘admits defeat’ on new Scottish independence referendum despite previous pledges

Nicola Sturgeon rattled over Scottish independence support

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The SNP leader has insisted on numerous occasions a second vote on Scotland’s position in – or out of – the UK will be held before the end of 2023. She told STV in April: “Yes, that is my intention… The work is underway.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “I was elected a year ago on a very clear proposition to offer the people of Scotland a choice in the first half of this Parliament, and my intention is to deliver on that.”

Less than a month later, the Scottish First Minister has been accused of “admitting defeat” on there being a referendum before this time.

The change has been brought about by Ms Sturgeon insisting she would not pursue a referendum if this was not legal.

She is reportedly seeking legal advice on the feasibility of a vote.

Former Labour MP Tom Harris wrote in the Telegraph her party was now “fighting to prevent the release” of this advice.

He highlighted Ms Sturgeon’s comment to the BBC that “I wouldn’t want to go ahead with a referendum that wasn’t legal”.

This, Mr Harris noted, puts Ms Sturgeon in a rather difficult position.

He noted the Scotland Act means fundamental constitutional matters relating to the country are reserved to Westminster, meaning Prime Minister Boris Johnson could block a second vote.

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In the midst of the Covid pandemic, he claimed a referendum would – “in the current context” – be “irresponsible and reckless”.

The latest context of the war in Ukraine, on which Mr Johnson appears keen to make himself a leading figure, suggests it is unlikely a change will occur.

This, Mr Harris stressed, means there are “difficult waters ahead” for the SNP leader.

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He wrote: “She carefully but foolishly refused to caveat her hubristic insistence on a second referendum by warning that such an event would need explicit legal approval.

“She has led her party up a hill from whose summit a dignified retreat is no longer possible without a hell of an internal row.”

If a referendum is not held in Scotland before the end of 2023, Scottish Nationalists are expected to ask major questions of the SNP which said they would get another vote.

He suggested Scotts will ask “how and why Scotland’s most senior politician was allowed to mislead so many voters into believing she had more power and authority than was actually the case”.

The SNP responded to Mr Harris’s argument, claiming it was “utterly absurd”.

A spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “This claim – from the leader of the pro-Brexit campaign in Scotland – is utterly absurd and shows the No campaign argument boils down to nothing more than an outright denial of democracy.

“The people of Scotland voted for a referendum on independence, and trying to block that democratic mandate is simply unsustainable.”

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