A SECOND independence referendum could be triggered in just a few years, former SNP cabinet secretary Kenny MacAskill has said.
The ex-justice minister said he is “confident” that Scots will vote Yes next time after the “better than anticipated” outcome last September.
But business leaders questioned Mr MacAskill over the “continuing narrative” of constitutional change after the uncertainty in recent years caused by the independence debate.
“Will there be another referendum? I believe as I voted – Yes,” the Edinburgh MSP told a conference of lawyers, bankers and insolvency practitioners organised by legal firm Aberdein Considine yesterday.
“When will that be? I don’t know. It will be set, as are all matters in politics, by events,” he said.
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David Cameron has promised an in-out referendum on EU membership by then end of 2017, if re-elected as prime minister. The commonly held view north of the border is that a European exit would be bad for business.
Mr MacAskill added: “The SNP will require a majority in the Scottish Parliament for another [independence] referendum and a cause to justify it. The majority looks possible but the cause will depend. An EU exit or failure to deliver [on unionist party pledges] would be possible reasons, but time will tell.”
Aberdein Considine partner, Rob Aberdein, said the referendum took up “a lot of internal resources” in financial services in contingency planning for independence, as well as “causing uncertainty” for customers.
He said: “Does the continuing narrative around a referendum and further devolution make this a bad place to do business?”
But this was rejected by the former justice secretary. “I think what we’ve seen in the referendum is that Scotland can hold its head high,” said Mr MacAskill. “The economy and business, despite the challenges internationally and locally, managed to do remarkably well.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for a veto over a Scottish EU exit if the rest of the UK votes to pull out in a referendum. The SNP leader has said all four nations of the UK should have to agree to withdrawal.
The First Minister has also stated that failure to deliver on the pledge of further devolution would result in “a very angry reaction from the electorate”.
Mr MacAskill said that political battleground will be “home rule not independence”.
He added: “The Smith Commission that was set up and has reported has not delivered that in any shape or form, I would argue.
“But even for those who believe that they [powers] are extensive enough or a basis for more agree that it’s about further devolution. So, the debate is going to continue and further devolution there will be. The argument is on the extent of it and the timescale for it.”
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