First Minister fears confusion

Sturgeon says early EU poll would be ‘mistake’

Sturgeon in Downing St STVFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned Prime Minister David Cameron that holding an early referendum on Europe would be a mistake.

Mr Cameron wants the poll to take place in June, but Ms Sturgeon said she said she had told Mr Cameron she objected to the timing during a meeting last week.

Ms Sturgeon told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme that holding a European campaign during election campaigns in Scotland and elsewhere would cause confusion.

“To have a referendum campaign starting in parallel would be disrespectful to those important elections,” she said.

“It would be better for David Cameron to leave more time between a deal in February and the decision [on membership].”

She confirmed that a vote to leave the EU would make a second independence referendum “highly likely”. She denied she was taking a Machiavellian view but would be arguing for the UK to stay in the EU.

She said said she was looking for “significantly more movement’ from the Westminster government before she signs an agreement on transferring powers to Scotland.

“If we don’t get that I will not sign up to something that is unfair to Scotland,” she said. “I am not asking for any special favours or any special treatment.”

She hinted that there would be news this week on the oil industry and on the Aberdeen City deal.

Asked whether US presidential campaigner Donald Trump should be banned from Britain, she sidestepped the question by saying it was not for one country to interfere with the election in another.

“I have every confidence that good sense will prevail,” she said.

> Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is expected to push for tax cuts in her campaign as a new poll shows the party jostling with Labour for second place behind the SNP.

Ms Davidson believes that a tax-cutting agenda will distance the party from both main rivals which are more inclined to increase taxes on high earners.

A report on how Scotland should use its tax powers, commissioned by the Scottish Conservatives and chaired by the former CBI Scotland director, Sir Iain McMillan, will be published tomorrow.

The Commission for Competitive and Fair Taxation in Scotland has been sitting for a year and is expected to say that taxes should not be higher than Westminster and, when possible, should be lower.

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