Members offered alternative
SNP pair pose option of indy talks without referendum
There could be a new route separation (pic: Terry Murden)
Nicola Sturgeon may seek to bypass a referendum and use a majority SNP Government as a mandate for opening negotiations on independence.
SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil and senior SNP councillor Chris McEleny want the party to back their proposal as a way to overcome a UK Government refusal to grant the necessary powers to Holyrood to hold a new vote.
They argue that should the UK Government fail to grant a Section 30 order for a vote, then victory at a Scottish General Election would mandate the Scottish Government to negotiate with the UK Government on independence.
In April the First Minister said she wanted a new vote on independence in the current session of the Scottish Parliament which ends in May 2021, and later suggested the referendum would be held in the second half of next year.
However, Tory leader Theresa May and the two candidates for the leadership, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, are opposed to giving Scotland a new chance to vote on independence.
Hunt told a leadership hustings in Perth on Friday: “I’m a Unionist to my core. I say this: as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom I will never allow our Union to be broken up, and if the First Minister of Scotland asks me for a second independence referendum I will muster up my British politeness and I will say No.” Mr Johnson told the event he could “see no case” for a second referendum.
Mr MacNeil and Mr McEleny hope the plan will be approved by SNP delegates at the SNP conference in Aberdeen in October.
Their resolution states: “Conference notes that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on October 31, 2019. Conference condemns the actions of the UK Government who have consistently ignored the sensible approach taken by the Scottish Government to reflect that the people of Scotland voted to remain in the EU.
“Conference believes that the people of Scotland’s future will be best served by an independent Scotland in Europe. Conference reaffirms that decisions about the future of Scotland should be made in Scotland by the people of Scotland.
“Conference calls on the Scottish Government to hold a referendum on Scottish independence before autumn of 2020.”
It adds: “Conference instructs, that in the event of the UK Government failing to agree to grant a Section 30 order to hold a referendum by the established principles of the Edinburgh Agreement, that the manifesto for the next Scottish or UK Parliamentary election – whichever may come first – shall state that, a pro-independence electoral victory shall be a mandate from the people of Scotland for the Scottish Government to commence independence negotiations with the UK Government.”
MacNeil pointed out other countries have become independent through negotiation rather than through referendums and said it would be undemocratic for the UK Government not to take part. He also called for campaigning to get underway to persuade more voters to back independence.
The SNP’s official position is to give the people of Scotland the option of becoming independent in a referendum before the 2021 election, and the First Minister has made clear she believes this should take place toward the latter half of next year.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of the pressure group Scotland in Union, said: “This reckless resolution from senior SNP politicians is astounding. It shows they will stoop to anything to try and break up the UK.
“It is wrong for the SNP to assume that a vote for them is always a vote for independence, with 28% of SNP voters saying that they would vote for Scotland to remain in the UK.
“Nicola Sturgeon must immediately rule out this irresponsible plan. It is time the SNP stop playing constitutional games and start listening to the people of Scotland.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip Maurice Golden MSP said: “There is no support among Scots for another independence referendum.
“But at every party conference, Nicola Sturgeon chooses to throw slabs of red meat to an increasingly rabid and hardline fringe in the SNP ranks.
“First she said there should be another divisive referendum by 2021. Now the SNP wants to break up the Union without even asking Scotland first. The SNP are a weak and tired Government completely lacking ideas. They need to focus on the day job and stop their endless constitutional grievance.”