Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Jo Swinson says SNP has 'no mandate' for indyref2

Jo Swinson Image copyright Getty Images

The new leader of the Liberal Democrats has claimed that the SNP has no mandate to hold another independence referendum

Jo Swinson said she was "confident" that the Scottish people still want to remain in both the UK and EU.

And she ruled out giving consent for indyref2 to be held if she became prime minister.

The East Dunbartonshire MP became party leader on Monday after comprehensively beating Sir Ed Davey in a poll of party members.

The 39-year-old is now the youngest Lib Dem leader in the party's history, and its first female leader.

She pledged during her victory speech to do "whatever it takes to stop Brexit", with her party being at the forefront of calls for a another referendum on EU membership - a so-called People's Vote.

Speaking to the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme on Tuesday, Ms Swinson denied that there was a contradiction between backing another referendum on Brexit but opposing one on independence.

She said a Brexit referendum would offer a "way out of chaos" while an independence referendum would be "layering chaos on top of an already volatile and difficult situation".

Ms Swinson added: "There is no mandate for that (an independence referendum). The SNP have put forward this idea of indyref2 at subsequent elections and they have lost seats and lost votes.

"So I am confident that this is not what people in Scotland want. People in Scotland want to have Scotland in the UK and the UK in the EU, and that's what the Liberal Democrats are arguing for.

"And that's what as leader of the Liberal Democrats I'm going to do everything in my power to deliver."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon wants another referendum on independence within the next two years

The SNP manifesto ahead of its victory in the last Holyrood election said indyref2 should be held if there is a "significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said immediately after the EU referendum that this manifesto pledge gave her a mandate to hold another referendum in the autumn of 2018 or spring of 2019.

She put her plans on hold after the SNP lost 21 seats in the 2017 general election, with the first minister admitting that the prospect of an independence referendum was a factor in the result - which saw her party's share of the vote drop from 50% to 37%.

But the SNP and Scottish Greens continue to form a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament.

And Ms Sturgeon announced in April of this year that she wants to hold indyref2 by 2021, although she conceded that she would need the consent of the UK government before it actually happens.

Meanwhile, Ms Swinson also said during her BBC Scotland interview that she would "absolutely not" do a deal with Boris Johnson that would prop up a minority Conservative government after any future general election.

And she again insisted that her party could win an election, claiming that there are millions of people across the UK who think the choice between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn "is not good enough and that Britain deserves better".

Ms Swinson said: "We have got both both the Labour and Conservative parties at the moment led by Brexiteers, we've got the Brexit party led by Brexiteers. The Liberal Democrats are offering something genuinely different and that's why thousands of people are joining us every day".