FM declaration

Indyref2 a matter of ‘when – not if’ Sturgeon tells Boris


Nicola Sturgeon insists she has a mandate for a new poll

Nicola Sturgeon has told Boris Johnson a second independence referendum is “a matter of when – not if” following the SNP’s landslide victory in the Scottish elections.

The First Minister made her position clear in a phone call with the Prime Minister in which she agreed they should work together on recovery from the pandemic and on the COP26 summit.

But she confirmed that the question of a second referendum on Scottish independence should be on the agenda.

Ms Sturgeon earlier confirmed that she would take part in Team UK talks on the union amid continuing differences on the constitutional issue.

On Saturday she warned Mr Johnson he could not stand in the way of a new Scottish independence referendum to “give people in Scotland the right to choose their future”.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the SNP failing to win an overall majority was a “significant difference” to the circumstances which led to the 2014 referendum.

A spokesman for Ms Sturgeon, who was back in Bute House this weekend, issued a statement which said: “The First Minister spoke to the Prime Minister this afternoon, and thanked him for his congratulations on her re-election.

“The First Minister made clear that her immediate focus was on steering the country through Covid and into recovery, and that a newly elected Scottish Government would work with the UK government as far as possible on that aim.

“They also agreed the importance of the two governments working together closely and constructively to achieve a successful hosting of and outcome from COP26.

“The FM also re-iterated her intention to ensure that the people of Scotland can choose our own future when the crisis is over, and made clear that the question of a referendum is now a matter of when – not if.”

Final position of parties

A spokesperson for Downing Street said: “This afternoon, the Prime Minister spoke to the First Minister of Scotland to congratulate her on her party’s success, having secured the largest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament.

“They both agreed that their immediate focus should be and is on working together to build back from the pandemic.

“The Prime Minister stressed how recovery will be more effective if both Governments work together and reiterated his invitation for the First Minister to join a summit meeting to discuss our shared challenges on covid recovery and how we can overcome them.”

Anti-independence group Scottish Business UK, led by care homes entrepreneur Robert Kilgour, warned that the First Minister “will not be forgiven by the business community if, after failing to get the endorsement [a majority of seats] she asked for, she prioritises a divisive referendum over saving lives and economic recovery from the pandemic.”

Mr Johnson will use the Team UK summit to suggest injecting money directly into areas that need attention as the country emerges from the pandemic, even if it means encroaching on devolved responsibilities.

Mr Johnson’s letter to the First Minister

It is understood UK ministers are preparing to offer help to clear Scotland’s cancer backlog and invest billions of pounds in infrastructure projects as part of a renewed effort to save the Union.

The Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross claimed his campaign had been a success in stopping a second referendum

The party matched their best ever election result, with Mr Ross claiming 100,000 more votes.

Douglas Ross: ‘stopped’ an SNP majority (pic: Terry Murden)

A pattern of tactical voting appeared to be evident with Tory and Labour supporters prepared to vote for the candidate best able to defend the unionist seat.

Political strategist Prof Sir John Curtice said: “Tactical voting has been strongest in seats that the unionist parties were trying to defend and played an important role in enabling a number of marginal opposition-held seats to be successfully defended.

“It has been more muted in seats where the opposition were trying to challenge the SNP, who have not suffered a single constituency loss in this election.”

See also: Starmer shakes up shadow cabinet

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