Fury at Nicola Sturgeon on push for 2021 Scots independence referendum

Nicola Sturgeon faces fury as SNP renews push for Scottish independence referendum THIS YEAR despite Covid crisis and public war with Alex Salmond

  • SNP has renewed its push for a fresh Scottish independence referendum in 2021
  • Nicola Sturgeon is facing fury for the separatist drive amid coronavirus crisis
  • Support for splitting UK has been falling amid the public war with Alex Salmond 

Nicola Sturgeon faced fury today as the SNP renewed its push for a Scottish independence referendum this year despite the coronavirus chaos and her public war with Alex Salmond. 

The First Minister was lambasted by opposition parties after senior allies insisted they are still aiming to hold another vote within months.

The party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford reiterated the goal even though support for breaking up the union has been diving amid the brutal infighting with Mr Salmond. 

Ms Sturgeon has also refused to give a date when the brutal lockdown will be lifted, branding Boris Johnson’s June 21 schedule ‘made up’. 

The SNP insists that if it wins Holyrood elections in May it will have a mandate for a re-run of the 2014 referendum, even though both sides agreed at the time it was a ‘once in a generation’ decision. 

Mr Johnson has said he will not give permission for the vote, leaving the nationalists threatening to hold a ‘wildcat’ version that would not have any legal standing. 

However, nerves have been growing in SNP circles after a significant turnaround in the polls over recent weeks.

With Ms Sturgeon facing attacks from former friend Alex Salmond that she broke the ministerial code over handling of allegations against him and the UK government credited with a strong vaccine rollout, the consistent lead for independence has been whittled away. 

Survation research last weekend found that the public is split 50-50 on the issue when ‘don’t knows’ are exluded.  

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford (left) reiterated the goal of holding a referendum this year even though support for breaking up the union has been diving amid the brutal infighting between Nicola Sturgeon (right) and Alex Salmond

A Survation poll last week found Scots are now split evenly on whether to go for independence

In an interview with the PA news agency today, Mr Blackford said: ‘I want to see that referendum happen as quickly as is practically possible, I think it’s in everybody’s interest that that is the case.

‘But of course we’ve got to get the election out the way, we need to make sure that the SNP are elected back into government again, that we reinforce that mandate for a referendum.

‘There’s a Bill that will be published over the coming weeks and that can be enacted once we’re on the other side of the election.’

Mr Blackford insisted that Scotland needed to get to a ‘safe place’ from coronavirus before the vote could take place.

He said Holyrood ministers have ‘talked about a six-month period once the legislation is triggered which could be in June, so it could be the case we could face a referendum as early as late 2021’.

Ms Sturgeon seemed distinctly uncomfortable when asked about the timing of an independence vote at her coronavirus briefing.

‘I am not getting into political questions right now,’ she said, adding: ‘This is a Covid briefing, I am going to stick to that today. My focus is on Covid and doing what is right around Covid for as long as it takes, that is what I am here to talk about today.’

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said: ‘There is nothing more reckless and wholly irresponsible than pushing for another referendum as early as this year, when all our efforts should be on tackling Covid-19 and protecting jobs.’

The Conservative leader said: ‘We need to focus on the current crisis, not create a whole new one with another divisive referendum.

‘The health crisis may soon be over thanks to the resounding success of Scotland and the UK’s vaccine scheme but the next great challenge, the economic crisis, is still to come.’

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour spokesman Colin Smyth said: ‘At a time of national crisis, the public want our politicians to focus on what unites our country – not more division.

‘It is irresponsible and out of step for Ian Blackford to say the priority should be another referendum, not a Covid recovery plan to rebuild Scotland after the pandemic.’

Boris Johnson (pictured left on a visit to the North East with Rishi Sunak yesterday) has said he will not give permission for the vote, leaving the nationalists threatening to hold a ‘wildcat’ version that would not have any legal standing

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