Scotland won’t follow Catalan civil unrest, says Nicola Sturgeon

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Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed the prospect of a Catalan-style pro-independence campaign of civil unrest in Scotland, insisting the legal precedent of the 2014 referendum will be repeated in any future Scottish vote.

But the First Minister said the Catalan government had little choice but to take a more confrontational approach towards Madrid after appeals for a referendum fell on deaf ears from the Spanish government.

A pro-Spanish unity rally marches through Barcelona in response to last Sundays disputed referendum on Catalan independence. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

A pro-Spanish unity rally marches through Barcelona in response to last Sundays disputed referendum on Catalan independence. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

The Scottish First Minister was speaking as a day of further upheaval gripped Barcelona where thousands took to the streets to protest against independence.

The rally came a week after the Catalan government, led by separatist president Carles Puigdemont, held a referendum on secession that Spain’s top court had suspended and the Spanish government said was illegal. The Yes side won the referendum with 90 per cent of the vote, though fewer than half of the region’s electorate voted. Mr Puigdemont has pledged to push ahead for independence anyway and is set to address the regional parliament on Tuesday.

But despite close links between the Scottish and Catalan independence movements, Ms Sturgeon said she didn’t want to see a similar approach in Scotland.

“I wouldn’t want to be in the position where we were in Scotland choosing to become independent in that kind of circumstance and that kind of environment,” she told the Peston show yesterday.

“We’ve got that precedent here and I think it was to the credit of David Cameron that the UK government at that time agreed with the Scottish Government the Edinburgh Agreement.

“That precedent is there and that’s one that one that we should seek to have used when we look at that issue again.”

But she added: “At the end of the day, the people are sovereign. Whether it’s Catalonia or Scotland, it’s for the people to decide how they want to be governed and what their future should be.”

The SNP leader insisted that the case for independence has “never been greater” after Brexit and said she would look at the timing of a second vote towards the end of next year.

But the UK Government, which has control over the constitution, has so far rejected SNP demands for a second vote after Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon “reset” her independence plans after the SNP suffered major reverses in the UK election, but said yesterday a second vote could still happen before the next Holyrood election in 2021.

Organisers of the Barcelona march said 930,000 people took part while local police said there were 350,000 protesters.

Large rallies were held on Saturday in Madrid, Barcelona and other cities to demand Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Mr Puigdemont negotiate to find a solution to Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.