Election 2019

Nicola Sturgeon: Treatment of Scotland justifies indyref2

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted to hold a new independence vote regardless of the outcome of Brexit

The "contemptuous way in which Scotland has been treated" is justification for a new vote on independence regardless of Brexit, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The first minister has put a referendum at the heart of the SNP's campaign for the general election on 12 December.

She told BBC Radio Scotland that a ballot should be held even if the UK ultimately does not leave the EU.

And she said the country's "interests, voice and views" had been "ignored" over the past three years.

The SNP leader was the latest Scottish party leader to take part in a live BBC Radio Good Morning Scotland interview in the build-up to Thursday's snap election.

The other main parties are all opposed to independence, and have said they would not agree to a vote on Ms Sturgeon's preferred timetable of the second half of 2020.

The SNP's campaign is based on both opposing Brexit and pursuing a fresh referendum on Scottish independence.

Asked if the UK remaining in the EU would derail her hopes for an independence vote, Ms Sturgeon said this was not the case.

She said: "My manifesto in 2016 said a material change in circumstances such as - for example - Brexit.

"The material change, yes, is the prospect of Scotland being taken out of the EU, but also the contemptuous way in which Scotland has been treated, with our interests, our voice, our views ignored. We've seen that in spades over the past three years.

"I've been very clear in this election, I think that it's right for Scotland to have a choice over our own future. Whatever that choice happens to be its up to people in Scotland if its independence or not, that ability to choose is far preferable to having that choice made for us by a Westminster government, particularly one led by Boris Johnson."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Conservatives campaign in Scotland is centred around opposition to an independence referendum

Ms Sturgeon has said she will approach the UK government for an agreement to hold a referendum - similar to that which underpinned the 2014 vote - by the end of 2019.

The Scottish Parliament is also set to pass legislation before Christmas which could pave the way for a vote.

The SNP leader said: "I've been crystal clear - and this is sometimes a hard thing for my own supporters to hear - a referendum, if it is to be capable of delivering independence for Scotland, has to be legal and accepted in terms of its legitimacy and I've never shied away from that.

"Before the end of this year, we will make that request for the transfer of power."

Referendum timing

The first minster has outlined the conditions she would set to help put a minority Labour government in power, should the election result in a hung parliament.

Jeremy Corbyn has said he would not back an independence vote in the "early years" of a Labour administration, but Ms Sturgeon said that having apparently accepted the "principle" of a vote, Mr Corbyn would not turn his back on power "over an argument about the timing".

Labour also want to hold a referendum on a renegotiated Brexit deal, which Ms Sturgeon accepted might come first "in sequencing", if not in terms of priority for her.

Asked if she could foresee both referendums being held on a single day, the SNP leader said: "I don't necessarily, no, but there will be discussions if we're in this situation about all of that."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn has opposed holding a referendum in the "early years" of a Labour government

The Conservatives have said they would refuse any approach from Ms Sturgeon for a new referendum, with the SNP leader saying she would set out her response to that "if and when we get to that point".

Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said the "union is on the line" in the election, saying an "indyref2 pact" was being "stitched up" between the SNP and Labour.

He said: "Nicola Sturgeon is planning for more chaos and division come Friday. Instead let's send her a clear message: say no to indyref2, and get back to what matters."

However Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has claimed there is a "Johnson-Sturgeon alliance" on the ground in the campaign, saying the SNP is focusing resources on Labour-held seats.

He told the Daily Record newspaper: "If you look at it, some would argue that having Boris Johnson might benefit the SNP because people would be so alienated. But in arguing that, and doing that, it means large numbers of Scottish people would suffer."

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said the SNP should "take an independence referendum off the table" to focus on day to day issues.

He said: "There are so many challenges facing Scotland, from stark rises in the number of young people waiting for mental health treatment to the two thirds of police officers warning they are stressed out and overworked. That's what we should be fixing."