FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold Scottish independence vote before Brexit referendum next year

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Nicola Sturgeon today revealed she wants a second independence referendum held before a second Brexit vote, should Labour win the next general election.

Quizzed at First Minister's Questions in Holyrood by Scots Tory leader Jackson Carlaw, about the timing of two potential referendums, she said her priority was a second independence vote.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the election campaign trail

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the election campaign trail

Ms Sturgeon said yesterday that Scots should prepare for two referendums next year – on independence and Brexit.

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Today, poking fun at Ms Sturgeon's record on referendums - "she always loses" - Mr Carlaw asked: "I'm just not sure the First Minister has thought through her big double referendum promise. As she keeps telling us, she would ask Jeremy Corbyn for a referendum on independence and demand it's held next year.

"And we know too that she would support Mr Corbyn's plan for a second Brexit referendum also to be held next year.

"Now First Minister, clarify for me a simple question on timetabling - When is all this supposed to happen? Both referendums on the one day or different days? Which vote would come first - IndyRef, EuroRef - which?"

Scottish Tories interim leader Jackson Carlaw

Scottish Tories interim leader Jackson Carlaw

Ms Sturgeon said: "Well my priority, and I can't believe Jackson Carlaw hasn't actually cottoned onto this yet, he should maybe listen a bit more, my priority is to give the people of Scotland the opportunity to choose independence next year and I look forward to delivering on that.

"Jackson Carlaw is also mistaken when it comes to past referendums, he might conveniently be forgetting that in 2016 referendum I campaigned for Remain and Scotland voted to Remain in the EU by 62 per cent and that's the referendum result I want to see honoured the question for Jackson Carlaw is why is he so willing to ignore how people of Scotland voted on that question."

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Mr Carlaw hit back: "You head it from the First Minister there - her priority used to be education, now it's independence," he said. "I'm not surprised she can't answer the basic question because none of it makes sense.

"Not only is she going to demand a second independence referendum as well as supporting a second Brexit referendum, she's also telling people she's going to help form, what she grandly describes as a progressive alliance, with other parties across the UK.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

"That's the same UK she hopes to leave weeks later. I'm intrigued, can the First Minister explain how you form an alliance with the same people you're going to walk out on weeks later?"

Reiterating that her choice between either an independence or Brexit referendum was the fotmer, Ms Sturgeon said: "Perhaps Jackson Carlaw might reflect on this - if referendums are so dreadful why did David Cameron, the Tory Prime Minister at the time, foist a Brexit ref on Scotland?"

She added: "Yes I would want to be part of a progressive alliance - to lock Tories out of government in Westminster. Why? Because Tories wreak misery and havoc. It's a year today since Theresa May presented her Brexit deal to her Cabinet, unleashing a year of chaos and division at the hands of the Tories - welfare cuts, austerity, pushing more children into poverty, no right minded person in this country would want anything other than an alternative to that Tory misery."

In an increasingly heated exchange, Mr Carlaw dismissed the First Minister's words as "complete nonsense", and pointed to a TV interview last night by SNP MP David Linden, who he said had "clarified matters".

He added: "He revealed even if UK stayed in EU after a second vote the SNP would yet come up with yet more reasons for a grievance rematch on independence anyway - everyone knows we would be doing the indyref forever.

"All this grand talk of alliances is just a nationalist game and the Scottish Conservatives aren't buying it - we'll stand up for Scotland's lifetime decision to remain in the UK. The real question is why is she and Jeremy Corbyn refusing to do so?"

But Ms Sturgeon said: "The Scottish Tories have never stood up for Scotland in their puff and we've seen ample evidence of that over the past three years since Scotland voted to Remain in the EU and that vote was ignored and has been ignored every single day by the Conservatives.

"I believe Scotland will vote for independence when it comes to indyref2 so he need not worry about any further occasions. Let me absolutely candid - I support independence for Scotland and yes I do want Scotland to escape a position where we have our future imposed upon us by Boris Johnson, who is having his strings pulled by Nigel Farage. I don't want that to be Scotland's future."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said Ms Sturgeon's decision to prioritise an independence referendum meant she had "abandoned Remain voters across the UK.

“For people across the UK campaigning to Remain in the European Union, this will be hugely disappointing," he said.

"If you are a Remainer in Scotland, you should know that the SNP will twist every vote into an endorsement of independence.”

“Her party will always put independence ahead of anything else. Under the leadership of Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrats are committed to stopping Brexit and building a brighter future.”