Only two months ago, the Scottish government told an Australian official that a second independence referendum could benefit “by the end of 2021,” new papers have revealed.
Papers made public by Freedom of Information laws reveal that the Australian High Commissioner was told by Constitution Minister Mike Russell that he hoped an independence vote could take place by the end of this year.
In a November meeting with George Brandis QC, the diplomat inquired about the timing of another vote for independence.
Pete Wishart says an illegal Indy referendum will “horrify the world community”.
Mr. Russell reiterated his remarks in a BBC interview, saying he hoped that by the end of 2021, another vote would be held.
MR (Mike Russell) set out the plan to publish draft legislation by the end of the parliamentary term setting out the question to be asked and the timetable during which we agree the referendum should be conducted during the next parliamentary term, the minutes of the meeting obtained by the Scottish Tories say.
If MR finds that there is no political reason for the UK government to neglect the Scottish people’s right to determine their own future after the Scottish elections in May 2021.’
Mike Russell, Minister of the Constitution for the Scottish Government.
“GB (George Brandis) asked about the proposed timing of the referendum after the Scottish elections. MR confirmed that he would hope a second referendum could be held by the end of 2021.”
The SNP has repeatedly said that a pro-independence vote at Holyrood should be a mandate for another referendum on Scottish independence after the 2021 election, expected by a number of recent polls – although the UK government has repeatedly suggested that any pleas will be disregarded.
Russell claimed in an October BBC interview that he was “certain” that another referendum could be held this year.
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Due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly said preparations for a second independence will be put on hold.
But officials are currently preparing a bill to hold another vote that, if the SNP remains in power, will be released and passed into Parliament prior to the Holyrood elections in May.
Douglas Ross, the Tory leader, said the meeting with Mr. Brandis revealed that the official stance of the Scottish government is to hold a referendum this year. But the official timeline set by the Scottish government for another vote is not yet known and will be disclosed when the bill is written.
Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader.
Mr. Ross said, “Nicola Sturgeon puts on a false face in her BBC statements and pretends to have paused her Indyref2 campaign, but to overseas officials, the SNP Constitutional Minister has betrayed reality.”
This document shows that the official stance of the SNP government is to keep Indyref2 in 2021 though viral rates are growing rapidly. When all our attention should be on combating the pandemic, nothing could be more irresponsible.
“Nicola Sturgeon’s self-professed cautious approach clearly does not apply to a second independence referendum. When it comes to this issue, she abandons reason in the blink of an eye.”
Mr. Ross called on the First Minister to openly condemn the remarks of Mr. Russell and to ensure that no other vote will be taken this year.