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Politics / New independence campaign ‘detracts from important issues’, Wishart says

Lib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart.

SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart has accused the Scottish Government of “stirring up division” by launching a new independence campaign.

On Tuesday the government published a new paper called Wealthier, Happier, Fairer: Why Not Scotland?, which first minister Nicola Sturgeon said “sets the scene” for change.

More papers will be published in the future in areas such as currency, tax, defence and trade.

Sturgeon said she believes the country is “even more prepared for independence” now than it was in 2014, when the last referendum was held.

In that referendum around 55 per cent of people in Scotland voted to stay in the union. In Shetland that figure was nearly 64 per cent.

Sturgeon said the papers are designed to “contribute to a full, frank and constructive debate on Scotland’s future”.

In a foreword to the new paper, the first minister wrote: “We are a brilliant country in so many ways – but a glance at many of our European neighbours tells us we can do better. That should excite and inspire us.

“But first we must equip ourselves with the powers of independence that they already possess.”

She points to the fact that the Scottish Parliament has a majority of MSPs who are in favour of independence following last year’s election.

However local MSP Wishart – whose party the Liberal Democrats are opposed to Scottish independence – said the government needs to focus on the job at hand.

“Shetland is facing more homes being plunged into extreme fuel poverty, higher food and fuel prices and transport issues,” she said.

“Nationally we have the longest NHS waiting lists in history, a cost of living crisis and we need to combat the climate emergency while recovering from a pandemic.

“The Scottish Government is stirring up division and detracting from the important issues facing people in the country.

“The SNP and Greens should get back to focusing on making people’s lives and communities better, not taking them for granted.”