Brexit: SNP’s Michael Russell accused of ‘game playing’ on second referendum

Scottish Government Brexit minister Michael Russell
Scottish Government Brexit minister Michael Russell
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Scotland’s Brexit minister was accused of “game playing” after he insisted on a second EU referendum but refused to say the Scottish Government would respect the result.

Constitutional relations secretary Michael Russell told a committee of MSPs that if he was “able to wave a magic wand” then his preferred outcome from talks between the UK government and Labour would be a long delay to Brexit and so-called People’s Vote.

But he was asked by Conservative Murdo Fraser if there was “a narrow vote, 52 to 48 per cent, in support of the Withdrawal Agreement, would the Scottish Government then accept that needs to proceed?”

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Mr Russell said that “it would depend on what the vote in Scotland is”, adding: “I think a situation in which the people of Scotland continue to support being members of the EU and were denied that option for a second time would be insupportable.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer confirmed MSPs would be recalled during the Easter recess if the UK is due to leave the EU without a deal next Friday.

Ken Macintosh said in that case, parliament would convene from 1pm next Thursday with MSPs not guaranteed to get the suggested two days’ notice.

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Earlier, Mr Russell had said: “I would be surprised if members would want to be elsewhere when that particular moment of crisis - because it would be a moment of crisis – if next Thursday and Friday we find ourselves essentially with no deal.

“We may only know if that is happening on the evening of the Wednesday at the European Council, therefore I think it is likely that we will meet on the Thursday, at the present moment, barring something happening in the next few days.”