MSPs reject calls for second independence referendum push to be abandoned

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MSPS have rejected calls to halt setting up an independence taskforce despite the SNP being told they are “hellbent on pushing their agenda”.

A Holyrood debate calling for the Scottish Government to create a vaccine taskforce instead of drawing up a campaign for a second referendum was rejected by MSPs.

MSPs instead voted in favour of an SNP amendment stating “there can be no justification whatsoever to deny people in Scotland their democratic rights” if there is a pro-independence majority after May’s Holyrood election.

The SNP plan to ask Boris Johnson for permission to hold a second independence referendum if there is a pro-independence majority in Holyrood after the election.

If he rejects the appeal, the Scottish Government will legislate for a referendum to be held which is likely to lead to an unprecedented court battle.

Tory health spokesperson, Donald Cameron, said: “After everything Scotland has gone through and is still going through, it simply beggars belief that this Government thinks it’s right to talk about IndyRef2 at this point in time.

“For some completely unfathomable reason, the SNP have chosen the middle of a global pandemic as the right time to serialise their never-ending obsession with independence.”

“That’s not just unfathomable, but unforgivable. Now is not the time to divide communities all over again.”

Conservative constitution spokesperson, Dean Lockhart said the SNP are “hellbent on pushing their agenda for breaking up the country”.

Constitution Secretary Mike Russell accused the Scottish Conservatives of a “fear of democracy” over its opposition to an independence vote.

He pointed to the Tory Government in Westminster pressing ahead with Brexit during the pandemic.

Mr Russell added: “The UK Tory insistence, backed by the Scottish Tories, on a reckless decision to press on with the end of the transition period for leaving the EU – even in the face of this unprecedented economic, social and health crisis – has caused, is causing, and will cause untold economic and social damage.

“It is for the people of Scotland to decide what country and economy should be built following the pandemic.

“That is why, if there is in the next parliament a majority for an independence referendum that would allow us to become a normal small state within Europe, living in harmony and equity with our neighbours, then I believe that Parliament has an absolute right to take the matter forward. That’s democracy.”

Public Health Minister Mairi Gougeon, also highlighted the UK Government “ploughing on with leaving the EU right in the middle of the pandemic”.

She added that “the people of Scotland should be free to choose that future” after the pandemic.

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