Scotland politics

Nicola Sturgeon asks opponents to back second independence referendum

Polling card Image copyright PA
Image caption A referendum on Scottish independence was held on 18 September 2014

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has challenged Scotland's Labour and Lib Dem leaders to consider backing a second vote on Scottish independence.

The plea came after Kezia Dugdale and Willie Rennie said their members could campaign for independence.

Ms Sturgeon said she welcomed what her opponents had said but she found it a "curious tactic".

Both Labour and the Lib Dems said the first minister should concentrate on her party's record in government.

SNP leader Ms Sturgeon believes there should be a further referendum on Scottish independence if there is growing support for leaving the UK or there is a "material change" in UK politics.

'Logical conclusion'

Under either of those circumstances, she said opposition parties should give backing to a fresh vote.

Ms Sturgeon told journalists: "If they [Ms Dugdale and Mr Rennie] are to be taken seriously and if what they have said is to be credible, and if what they have said is to be coherent, then they have to take it to its logical conclusion.

"It's not going to cut much ice with supporters of independence in their parties to say in one breath to them 'if there's another referendum you can stand up for what you believe in' and in the next breath to say 'we think a referendum should be ruled out forever and a day'.

"My challenge to Kez and Willie is this, and I say it quite clearly, if opinion doesn't significantly shift from the referendum last year or if there's no material change in circumstances from the ones that prevailed last year, it wouldn't be right to propose a second referendum.

"But the challenge is, do they agree with me on the converse - if we do see opinion shift or if we do see a material change in circumstances surely they must agree it would be equally wrong for any one politician to rule out a referendum indefinitely."

'Fed up with repeats'

She spoke out after Ms Dugdale said there was "no denying that 30% of Labour voters voted 'Yes' in the referendum" and that she wanted to lead a party "that is comfortable with people who voted 'Yes' and 'No' backing our values of creating a fair and more equal society for everyone".

The SNP will set the timescale for a possible second referendum on independence, and the circumstances in which such a vote could be held, in its manifesto for next year's Holyrood election,

A Scottish Labour spokesman said the first minister's comments showed a second referendum was the SNP's priority.

He said: "Nicola Sturgeon could have talked about anything when she appeared before Scotland's journalists - for example the fact that under the SNP government more than 6,000 children in Scotland leave primary school unable to read properly.

"Instead she spoke about another referendum, which tells you all you need to know about the SNP's priorities. Scotland is fed up with repeats."

A Scottish Liberal Democrat spokeswoman said: "Another day, another attempt to distract people from the SNP's record on GPs, the police and school standards. The first minister needs to do much more than spend every day just rearranging words to try to get a second referendum."

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