Election 2019

General election 2019: Sturgeon says indyref2 needed because of Brexit

Nicola Sturgeon
Image caption The SNP leader said things had "dramatically" changed with the Brexit vote

Nicola Sturgeon has said she does not think she would be asking for another Scottish independence referendum now if the UK had not voted for Brexit.

Speaking on the BBC Question Time leaders' special, the SNP leader said Scotland faced being taken out of the EU against its will.

She said things had "dramatically" changed with the Brexit vote and voters should be able to change their minds.

Jeremy Corbyn, Jo Swinson and Boris Johnson also appeared on the programme.

The four leaders all faced 30 minutes of questions at the event in Sheffield, hosted by Fiona Bruce.

Responding to a question from the audience, Ms Sturgeon said: "If Brexit hadn't happened, I would still support independence - I'm not going to pretend otherwise.

"But do I think right now we'd be standing here talking about having another independence referendum so imminently? Probably not.

"But circumstances have changed dramatically - in a democracy, when circumstances change, people have to have the right to change their mind, and if they don't have that right then I don't believe what we're living in is a democracy."

Will the SNP support a Labour government?

Asked about what she would do in the event of another hung Parliament after 12 December, she said she would not work with the Tories but was prepared to deal with Labour if Jeremy Corbyn committed to end austerity and agreed to hold another Scottish independence referendum.

Ms Sturgeon said she didn't envisage a formal coalition, but could foresee a "less formal" confidence and supply arrangement with the Labour party if he met her conditions.

She reiterated that if Mr Corbyn wanted the support of the SNP he should "respect the right of the people of Scotland to choose their own future".

Politicians at Westminster do not have "a moral or democratic right" to stop the Scottish people from making that choice. "We have the ability to send that message," she added.

Earlier in the programme, Mr Corbyn again said that an independence referendum would not be "a priority" in the "early years of a Labour government".

Pushed to be more specific on what "the early years" meant, he said "the first two years, at least".

He has previously said he would "certainly not" allow a Scottish independence vote until after the next Holyrood election in 2021.

But Ms Sturgeon - who wants an independence referendum next year - suggested she didn't believe Mr Corbyn would "compromise the chance to have a Labour government" to delay indyref2 by a few years.

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Media captionCorbyn: "I will adopt a neutral stance on Brexit"

In his final answer, Jeremy Corbyn confirmed he would "remain neutral" in the Brexit referendum planned by Labour and not campaign for Leave or Remain. He said this would allow him to "credibly" carry out the decision of the British people as prime minister.

Speaking later in the programme, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson was challenged over her role in austerity in coalition with the Tories - and accused of treating voters as "stupid" over her plans to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit without another referendum.

Ms Swinson said: "I don't think you can accuse us of not being upfront about wanting to stop Brexit. We've been crystal clear about that from the very beginning.

"Not for one second do I think that means that you or anybody like you is stupid. I think it means we disagree."

The final interviewee was Boris Johnson. He said he "didn't want to have an election now", but had to call it "because Parliament is blocking Brexit".

"I want next year to be a fantastic year... and we need to get Brexit done to do it," he added.

There have already been separate Question Time specials with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley.

The first live TV debate between the prime minister and Labour leader took place on ITV earlier this week.

The BBC will also host a live head-to-head debate between the Conservative and Labour leaders on 6 December, plus a seven-way podium debate between senior figures from the UK's major political parties on 29 November, live from Cardiff.

Channel 4 News will also host a debate focusing solely on climate change. Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the Green Party have all agreed to take part, but the Conservatives not yet said whether they will attend. A date has not yet been announced for this debate.

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