Nicola Sturgeon has urged those who want a second referendum on Scottish independence to back the UK’s continued membership of the EU.
The First Minister said a Remain vote was the “only sensible and logical” course for those who want a re-run of the 2014 poll.
I don’t want independence to come about because the rest of the UK takes what I think would be a damaging decision to vote to leave the EUNicola Sturgeon
Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly said that if Scotland votes Remain on Thursday but the overall vote is for Leave it could trigger a second independence referendum.
She said that option would not be on the table if Scotland also voted for Brexit, and repeated her warning that such a vote would result in a “seizing of power” at Westminster by a right-wing Tory “cabal”.
The SNP’s manifesto in the run-up to the Holyrood election stated: “The Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the European Union against our will.”
Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme, Ms Sturgeon denied that her position was “terribly confusing”.
She said: “You can’t assume that Scotland is going to vote to Remain.
“But if you are basing your decision on how to vote on Thursday on what it means for independence – and let me be clear I’m not basing my Remain vote on what it means for independence – but if you are then the logic of that position is that if Scotland votes to leave along with the rest of the UK then the premise, that particular premise for a second independence referendum, doesn’t arise.”
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Denying that she therefore wanted the rest of the UK to vote for Brexit, she added: “I want Scotland to be an independent country, it is what I’ve campaigned for all of my adult life but I don’t actually want it to come about because the rest of the UK takes what I think would be a catastrophically damaging decision to vote to leave the EU.”
Ms Sturgeon said that while she respected former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars, who has argued in favour of Brexit to boost the independence cause, she thought he was wrong on the issue.
She told parliament last week that the Scottish Government was carrying out “appropriate planning for all eventualities” after the referendum.
On the same programme, pro-Brexit Conservative MSP Graham Simpson said: “It simply is not credible that every single SNP parliamentarian thinks the same way on this issue. If you’re a nationalist, which clearly I’m not, it seems to me it is the natural thing to want to leave the European Union and many nationalist voters do. If you’re a nationalist you want more control under your own country.”
Mr Sillars said: “Nicola, deliberately, chose not to ask for a mandate in the election last month, so now she does not have one – despite some of us urging her to do so.
“Nicola says the Scottish Parliament should have the ‘right’ to hold another referendum. I agree, but that decision not to ask for a mandate in the election, and the failure to get an overall majority, means she is powerless to deliver that ‘right’.
“The next referendum can only come about if she wins the 2021 election, which is the earliest point that the essential mandate can be sought.
“In that context, a vote today in 2016 for Leave or Remain has no bearing whatsoever on when Scotland will get its second chance at independence.”