Mike Russell: Rushing into Scottish independence vote after Brexit could derail Yes vote

Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations Michael Russell. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.
Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations Michael Russell. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.
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The Scottish Government’s Brexit Secretary has said that rushing into a quickfire independence referendum after Brexit could derail the prospect of a Yes vote.

Michael Russell warned against “impatience” for a second vote on leaving the UK and said it can only happen at the “right moment”, as he addressed delegates at the party’s Autumn conference in Glasgow this morning.

Amid growing fears over the disastrous impact of a “No Deal” Brexit on Scotland’s economy, Mr Russell warned independence is not about “grabbing a lifeboat in choppy and dangerous seas.”

Instead, he said it was about securing “a route to a better Scotland, in a better Europe influencing the creation of a better world.”

Mr Russell’s keynote speech came amid growing pressure on the SNP leadership for a more urgent approach to a second referendum with tens of thousands of Nationalists marching through the heart of Edinburgh at the weekend.

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon: SNP promises ‘hope’ during an ‘unfolding calamity’

Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry suggested independence could come about through a general election, while Western Isles MP Angus McNeil suggested it could happen without Westminster approval. Mr Russell himself stated that the latter must be explored if Theresa May continues to block a referendum.

But he warned today that a second vote must only happen when a Yes vote looks assured.

“Delivering independence – the choice that Scotland will have to make in the end to assert its vision of the future – is the mission of this party,” he said

“It is not a threat to our neighbours but a means by which we can find a way to work better together, as equals.”

“I chose independence when I joined the SNP some 44 years ago and I intend to see it happen. I am still full of hope, and the more so when I look at how this party has changed and grown over all those years – and goes on growing.

“But it can only happen when we find the right moment and the right arguments to make it happen.

“Our job as a party and as a Government is to both make sure that Scotland flourishes, no matter the circumstances but also to ensure that – at the right moment – the choice of independence can be made.

“The right moment – not the most comfortable moment or the moment that best relieves our natural impatience. The moment at which our country is persuaded, ready and determined to win.”

Read more: Scottish independence vote ‘can happen without Westminster approval’