BBC News

Scotland Brexit: Sturgeon tells MSPs she would 'relish' an election

Related Topics
  • Brexit
image copyrightPA Media
image captionMs Sturgeon was speaking at first minister's questions at Holyrood

Nicola Sturgeon has said she would relish a general election and predicted the SNP would again "beat the Tories".

The first minister said her party would pledge to oppose Brexit and for "Scotland having the right to choose our own future".

But Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said voting SNP would be a vote for "more division".

The SNP joined other opposition parties at Westminster on Wednesday to prevent the PM holding an early election.

They are concerned that Boris Johnson would not stick to his pledge to have the vote on 15 October, and would instead wait until after the UK leaves the EU on 31 October - potentially without a deal.

MSPs at Holyrood voted to reject the idea of a no-deal exit on Thursday afternoon, with only the Conservatives opposing the symbolic motion.

The SNP, Labour, Liberal Democrats and other opposition MPs say they will not back an election while the option of a no-deal Brexit remains open to the prime minister.

A bill aimed at preventing no-deal was approved by the Commons on Wednesday, and is expected to complete its passage through the Lords on Friday.

The bill gives the Conservative government until 19 October to either pass a deal in Parliament or get MPs to approve a no-deal Brexit.

After that Mr Johnson will have to request an extension to the UK's departure date to 31 January 2020.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionMr Johnson has accused his opponents of wanting to "surrender"

The prime minister has described the legislation as a "surrender bill" that would pave the way for more "dither and delay", and says a snap general election was now the only way for the issue to be resolved.

Speaking at First Minister's Questions, Mr Carlaw claimed that Ms Sturgeon did not want the UK to negotiate a Brexit deal with the EU, and instead was aiming to "weaken the UK's hand in those talks".

He said: "Perhaps there is one thing we can agree on here - that it may now require a general election to sort this out."

Mr Carlaw, who became interim Scottish Conservative leader when Ruth Davidson quit last month, went on to say that Ms Sturgeon has "never seen a referendum result she doesn't want to overturn".

He told Holyrood his party would use an election to stand up for Scotland's decision to remain in the UK, and also the UK's decision to leave the EU, so that "this country can move on".

And he added: "If you want more years of division, vote for Nicola Sturgeon. If you want to get back to the things that matter - schools, jobs, police, the people's business - vote for us.

"That is the clear choice that Scotland now faces".

image copyrightPA Media
image captionJackson Carlaw became interim leader of the Scottish Conservatives when Ruth Davidson quit last month

Ms Sturgeon responded by saying neither Ms Davidson nor the prime minister's own brother Jo Johnson, who quit as a Tory MP, could "stomach the direction that Boris Johnson is taking this country in".

The first minister added: "I really relish the prospect of a general election. The SNP will beat the Tories in a general election, just as we have done in the past number of elections.

"Unashamedly and unapologetically in that election, the message from the SNP will be clear.

"We stand up for Scotland's opposition to Brexit, and we stand up for Scotland having the right to choose our own future - not having a future imposed on us by Boris Johnson."

Election expert Prof Sir John Curtice told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme earlier this week that the SNP could be on course to win more than 50 of Scotland's 59 seats in an election.

He was responding to the publication of a YouGov poll in the Times, which suggested the SNP would win 43% of the votes in Scotland, with the Conservatives on 20%, Labour on 15%, the Liberal Democrats on 12% and the Brexit Party and the Greens on 6% and 4% respectively.

Prof Sir John said the poll suggested the Conservatives could lose as many as 10 of the 13 Scottish seats they won at the last general election in 2017.

He added: "This suggests that an early general election would be a gift wrapped by Boris Johnson to Nicola Sturgeon as far as Scotland is concerned."

Also on Thursday, MSPs voted by 87 to 28 for a motion saying the UK "should in no circumstances leave the EU on a no-deal basis".

SNP, Labour, Green and Lib Dem members argued that such an exit would be a "disaster" and spell "chaos", and "must not be allowed to happen".

The Scottish Tories alone opposed the motion, although they argued that leaving with a negotiated deal would be "the best outcome and the best way to deliver on the referendum result".

Related Topics