Indyref2: Patrick Harvie insists Green vote would be used for independence mandate at general election

If the general election next year turns into a 'de facto’ independence referendum, the Scottish Greens co-leader has said Green votes would count towards a pro-independence vote.

Speaking on the radio on Sunday morning, Patrick Harvie said he is “really looking forward” to moving towards a pro-independence campaign as he said the legal route is “clearly preferred”.

The legal route would involve Supreme Court judges being asked whether Holyrood could stage a referendum without Westminster's consent.

The First Minister wants a referendum to take place on October 19 next year, however, experts have suggested judges will rule her government lacks the powers to stage such a vote.

Nicola Sturgeon, with Scottish Green leader Patrick Harvie, launched plans for a second referendum on Scottish independence (Picture: Russell Cheyne/pool/Getty Images)

A Plan B would be to use the next UK general election as a "de facto" referendum where the SNP would campaign on the single issue of independence.

The First Minister has insisted any route towards independence would be lawful.

Mr Harvie told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show he expects Greens to stand in such an election, however, said the party will be debating this in future conferences.

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Asked if the Scottish Greens would be standing on the “single issue” of independence, Mr Harvie said: “Very clearly, Greens offer a distinct vision of what kind of independent Scotland we want and we’ve been very clear about that.

"We would be accepting the premise that a majority of votes for pro-independence parties and candidates needs to be respected as a mandate.”

Mr Harvie, whose party is in a power sharing agreement with the SNP at Holyrood, said he believes independence is a route to the “positive, green future”.

If the general election is the “only option” for having an independence mandate “respected”, Mr Harvie said “in those circumstances we will have to say that a majority of votes for pro-independence parties and candidates has to be respected.

"Voters are going to vote in the context of that election campaign. The large majority of the Green movement and the Green party membership and supporters have been supporters of independence and some who are support devolution and would like to see devolution expanded, I think they are going to see over the course of the campaign the fact that the devolution settlement that we voted for simply doesn’t exist anymore.

"We have a hostile UK Government which is persistently undermining, legislating in devolved areas without consent, taking away the powers of the Scottish Parliament without consent.”

Alex Cole-Hamilton said Mr Harvie’s comments were “astonishing” as the Greens appear “fixated” on independence.

The Liberal Democrat leader said: "This is the week that we saw waiting times for cancer care reach record levels and Scotland has the worst drug deaths in the whole of the world.

"These are the issues we should be focusing our political minds on and not attempts to break up the United Kingdom.”

Scottish Labour criticised the Greens for "betraying” environmentalists in order to push forward independence.

Sarah Boyack, Scottish Labour’s constitution spokesperson said: “This morning’s interview with Patrick Harvie shows what many of us have suspected for some time – The Scottish Green Party is more than happy to drop their environmental priorities to focus solely on independence.

“Faced with a climate crisis, the Scottish Green Party is deciding to put flags before the future of our planet.

“This is a betrayal of the thousands of environmentalists who oppose the break-up of the UK.

“The focus of all of Scotland’s politicians must be on re-building our NHS, our economy, our public services and tackling our climate crisis.”

The Scottish Conservatives said Mr Harvie’s stance is an “insult to voters concerned about climate change”.

Liam Kerr MSP said: “The Scottish Greens have long been derided as merely an environmental offshoot of the SNP – but now we can drop the ‘environmental’ bit from that definition.

“Patrick Harvie let the mask slip by admitting the pursuit of independence trumps all else for his party – just as it does for the SNP.

“The fact that in a climate emergency the Scottish Greens are prepared to fight the next election solely on the constitution, is breath-taking. And that’s if they contest it at all – Patrick Harvie hinted that they may not field candidates in order to help the SNP.

“This stance is an insult to all voters concerned about climate change and the environment, and clearly demonstrates that concern for the environment – the only thing which people thought made the Greens different from the SNP – always comes second to grievance and division for nationalists.”

The UK government said it would examine the first minister's proposals for a second referendum, but said its position that "now is not the time" for another referendum had not changed.

Polling expert Mark Diffley said support for Scotland remaining in the UK was "absolutely in deadlock" as he said it was unlikely that would change until a referendum campaign began.

In a recent exclusive poll for The Scotsman, 49 per cent of Scots voted yes and 51 per cent voted no when asked whether they support independence.

However, when asked whether there should be an independence referendum in October next year, 40 per cent said Yes, 53 per cent No and 7 per cent said Don't Know.

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