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Politics / First minister proposes independence referendum next October

Local Labour councillor Tom Morton calls the independence push a “doomed piece of political theatre”

Nicola Sturgeon addressing the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

FIRST minister Nicola Sturgeon has proposed a Scottish independence referendum for 19 October 2023.

She said the Scottish Government is drawing up an independence bill and is establishing whether a referendum could be lawful without UK Government approval.

Prime minister Boris Johnson previously said the UK Government would deny a ‘section 30’ order to hold a referendum.

Sturgeon said she has asked the lord advocate – the country’s chief legal officer – to establish with the supreme court the competence of holding a consultative referendum.

The first minister though said she is also ready to negotiate on a section 30 order. 

“What I am not willing to do, what I will never do, is allow Scottish democracy to be a prisoner of Boris Johnson or any prime minister,” she said.

A section 30 order was granted by the UK Government for the 2014 referendum.

Sturgeon said “last May the people of Scotland said yes to an independence referendum” by voting in a majority of SNP MSPs.

Shetland North Labour councillor Tom Morton.

Tom Morton, Labour councillor for the SIC’s north ward who previously supported independence, said in response that “this doomed piece of political theatre is a cynical pitch at the approaching general election”.

“The Covid crisis is not over, we are facing immediate cost of living issues on a major scale, and yet this threadbare, failing Scottish Government is determined to engage in witless flagwaving at eye watering cost,” he said.

“Sturgeon knows there will be no section 30 Order allowing a binding referendum. She knows the best she can hope for is a toytown supermarket pop-up survey, and yet she is doing her best to inflame and divide a Scotland that deserves moral, calm, committed leadership.

“Only the Labour Party can provide this. And it will.”

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Meanwhile Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said in parliament that Sturgeon “is at it all over again – her eye is off the ball once more”.

He said the real priorities of the Scottish people are on the back burner, and said the UK needs to be “working as one”.

In the last referendum in 2014 Shetland voted 63.7 per cent in favour of staying in the union, which was above the Scotland-wide ‘no’ vote of 55.3 per cent.

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