Nicola Sturgeon: UK living on ‘borrowed time’

Nicola Sturgeon will warn today that the UK is living on “borrowed time” in a speech to mark the first anniversary of the independence referendum.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Holyrood parliament that opponents of another independence poll fear the verdict of the Scottish people. Picture: HemediaFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Holyrood parliament that opponents of another independence poll fear the verdict of the Scottish people. Picture: Hemedia
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Holyrood parliament that opponents of another independence poll fear the verdict of the Scottish people. Picture: Hemedia

The First Minister will accuse the UK government of treating the Scottish people with arrogance and “disrespect”, exactly a year after Scotland voted No.

Her warning comes as David Cameron urges the SNP to “move on” from its battle for independence and to respect the outcome of the 2014 referendum.

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The First Minister and the Prime Minister clashed amid signs that independence supporters are agitating for a second vote in the next few years – despite the SNP’s previous assertions that it would be a “once in a generation” event.

Speaking at an event in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon will accuse the UK government of “failing to fully deliver” on a vow to deliver more powers, made in the dying days of last year’s campaign. She will attack the Conservatives for imposing austerity on working people and the disabled as well as “arrogantly pressing ahead” with plans to renew Trident.

“My message to David Cameron today is the same as it was when I met him just after the general election,” Ms Sturgeon will say.

“What happens to support for independence in the months and years to come will depend as much on what you do as it will on what we do. And, right now, you are living on borrowed time.

“If you continue to ignore Scotland’s voice, if you continue to disrespect the choice that people across this country made in May, then more and more people will conclude that Westminster simply can’t deliver for Scotland.

“So, it is your choice, Prime Minister – but know that Scotland is watching.”

Ms Sturgeon will repeat her line that it is up to the Scottish people when and if a second referendum is held, and will confirm that the SNP 2016 manifesto will set out the party’s position on another poll.

“This is a judgment that we will make carefully,” Ms Sturgeon will say. “It is a judgment that will be driven, not by the interests of the SNP, but by the interests of the people of Scotland as a whole.

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“Only the people can decide if we will have another referendum. Only the people can decide when that will be.

“And only the people can decide if Scotland will become independent.”

Talk of a second referendum dominated First Minister’s Questions yesterday.

At Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon claimed that opponents of another independence poll “fear the verdict of the Scottish people”.

She told MSPs that support for Scotland leaving the UK has been rising since last year’s poll, which saw Yes Scotland defeated by 55 per cent to 45 per cent.

“There have been 24 polls in the last 12 months – every single one of them has shown support for independence higher than it was a year ago,” she said. “We’re starting to see that the desperation of the Better Together parties to have a referendum ruled out indefinitely is not because they respect democracy – it is because on this issue they increasingly fear democracy.

“If the Tories, if Labour, if the Liberals really believed in their heart of hearts that the people of Scotland were totally against independence, they would be crying out for another referendum.”

Yesterday the Green Party released a statement saying it believes there should be another poll “in time”.

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Regarding the precise timing, the Greens said they would respect citizen-led initiatives such as a call for a referendum signed by up to one million people on the electoral register.

With that in mind, the Greens are launching a crowdfunding appeal to commission research into setting up a new Scottish currency conducted by Ronald MacDonald, research professor in macroeconomics and international finance at Glasgow University.

The new research is supported by the former Yes Scotland chair Dennis Canavan.

With former First Minister Alex Salmond’s plan for a currency union with the rest of the UK being seen as a fatal flaw in the independence campaign, Mr Canavan has acknowledged that Yes supporters have to “get their act together” on the economics of independence.

But in a statement released by Mr Cameron to mark today’s milestone, the Prime Minister said the people of Scotland had voted “decisively” to remain in the UK.

“One year ago Scotland’s majority spoke. More Scots voted to keep our kingdom united than have ever voted for any party in any election in Scottish history,” Mr Cameron said.

“They voted decisively for a powerful Scottish parliament within a strong and secure United Kingdom. We listened. So let me be crystal clear: Scottish 
devolution is woven into the very fabric of our United Kingdom.

“We will table an amendment to the Scotland Bill so there is absolutely no doubt: ‘Holyrood is here to stay’.

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In a symbolic gesture, Mr Cameron indicated that he would respond to SNP concerns that the existence of the Scottish Parliament is not sufficiently protected in law.

The UK government will amend the Scotland Bill so that there is a new clause with stronger language to make it even clearer that the Scottish Parliament is a permanent part of the UK’s constitutional arrangements.

There will also be a change to the legislation that will ensure the Scottish Parliament can only be abolished if such a move is supported in a referendum of the Scottish people.

Mr Cameron said: “Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and I signed the Edinburgh Agreement which pledged we would all respect the outcome of last year’s momentous vote.

“We all agreed – as do the Scottish public – that the independence referendum should be a ‘once in a generation’ or a ‘once in a lifetime’ event.

“So now it is time to move on. Some may want to obsess about separation.

“But I am focused on delivering devolution so that the debate can move on from what powers the Scottish Parliament should have, to how they are used to better the lives of the people of Scotland.

“And today, on the anniversary of that historic vote, let me repeat: We are delivering a new, accountable and permanent Scottish Parliament. Holyrood will be one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world.”