SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s statement yesterday (Tuesday June 28), where she set out the process by which the Scottish Government would seek to hold a legal referendum on independence.
The First Minister has said she will write to the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask for formal consent for the vote to be held, but she has also asked Scotland’s Lord Advocate to refer the case to the UK Supreme Court to rule on the potential legal issues in holding a vote were the UK Government to withhold its approval.
If the Supreme Court decides that Holyrood can legally hold a referendum without the UK Government’s consent, then the Scottish Government’s Referendum Bill (published today) will be passed. However, if the Supreme Court doesn’t rule in the Scottish Government’s favour, then the First Minister indicated that the next UK general election would be viewed as a “de facto” referendum.
Nicola Sturgeon has proposed the 19th October 2023 as the date for the next referendum on independence, and has confirmed this would use the same question as in 2014 (“Should Scotland be an independent country?”).
Allan said: “The next referendum must clearly be lawful and constitutional, and the First Minister has today set out the options currently available to the Scottish Government to enable such a referendum to be held.
“Our circumstances have shifted enormously since 2014 - Scotland has been dragged out of the EU against our will, and island and rural areas in particular have suffered hugely as a result, with a loss of EU funding, as well as labour shortages and produce export issues, for example, detrimentally affecting our already fragile local economies.
“Scotland’s potential will continue to be limited unless we achieve our independence. We have our hands tied when it comes to tackling the energy bills crisis or establishing a properly supportive welfare system, and as things stand we are powerless against the UK Government’s inhumane immigration policies.
“The people of Scotland last year elected a Parliament committed to giving them a choice on independence, and so that democratic will must be respected. It should be up to the people of Scotland, not the UK Government, to decide what Scotland’s future should look like.”
Meanwhile Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus MacNeil, responded to Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove’s proposal to have an Islands Forum.
Mr MacNeil had received a letter from Michael Gove with information on the Islands Forum which will be used to discuss specific elements of the Levelling Up agenda.
Mr MacNeil said: “Mr Gove is introducing an Islands Forum at a time when his Levelling Up Fund is delivering less than a third per year of what the European Rural Development Fund used to deliver.
"Before forums, we need the cash. Levelling Up is clearly not doing what it should be doing, therefore, restore the money so any talking committee can have power.”