Ian Blackford issues SNP unity plea for independence push

The SNP will only achieve independence if the it stays "together", its Westminster leader will say today, amid renewed tensions at the top of the party.

Ian Blackford says the SNP must stay "together"

Ian Blackford will appeal to Nationalists to "keep the heid and keep the faith" in the push for a pro-independence majority at next year's Holyrood election which, he believes, would pave the way for a fresh referendum on leaving the UK.

Mr Blackford will look to rally the party faithful in his speech after a rift between one of his MPs and the leadership intensified.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry, the party’s Homes Affairs spokeswoman at Westminster, called for an end to the "cult of leader" at the top of the party. She said this should be replaced with more "collegiate" approach to internal debates including how best to accelerate Scottish independence. The MP said that a working group should be formed to discuss routes to Scotland's severing of ties with the UK, including a "plan B" if Westminster again blocks a vote on the matter.

Mr Blackford will issue a call for unity this morning in his address to the delegates at the virtual conference.

"Our plan, our job and our focus is winning an independence majority at Holyrood next May. We have our candidates in place, we have momentum, and we have a leader our nation trusts," Mr Blackford is expected to say.

"We have all come a long way - and we are now within touching distance of independence. But just as we have travelled all this way together - we can only complete this journey together.

"My message to all of us is this: Keep heart, keep the heid and keep the faith. A new Scotland - fairer, greener and European - is now ours to win."

Delegates will debate a resolution on independence today which states there can be “no justification” for Westminster blocking another referendum if a pro-independence majority is returned at Holyrood after next May’s election.

Mr Blackford is also expected to take aim at the UK Government's handling of devolution, accusing Westminster of attempting to undermine the authority of the Scottish Parliament with the Internal Market Bill.

He will brand the legislation, which has been described as a "power grab" by parliamentarians in Scotland, as "the biggest threat to devolution since our parliament reconvened.”

According to UK ministers, the Bill will allow for free trade between the four nations after Brexit.

But Mr Blackford will say: “It gives UK government ministers powers to design and impose replacements for EU spending programmes in devolved areas. On Infrastructure, economic development, culture and sport, education and training. All of it."Their agenda is clear. The Tories will seek to bypass democratically elected MSPs and Ministers in Scotland.

He added: "I suppose that's what you get from a Prime Minister who was caught red handed calling Scottish devolution a 'mistake' and a 'disaster'.

"As I told Boris Johnson in Westminster, it wasn't a slip of the tongue - it was a slip of the Tory mask."

A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.