‘People will decide second indyref,’ says Sturgeon

A SECOND independence ­referendum could be brought forward if the new Conservative UK government fails to meet the SNP’s post-election demands, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, centre, and Deputy First Minister John Swinney attend a STUC bi-annual meeting. Picture: PA

TThe SNP leader is calling for the creation of a “powerhouse parliament” at Holyrood with the ability to create jobs and tackle poverty.

She will hold talks with Mr Cameron in Edinburgh to set out her case later this week. The First Minister said it would be for the “people to decide” when another referendum is staged, in a statement to MSPs yesterday.

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But she warned: “What happens to public opinion on this question in the years ahead will depend not just on what the SNP and the Scottish Government do, but also on the respect shown to the decisions the ­people of Scotland have made.

Scottish Labour MSPs, including Richard Baker, centre, listen to a statement by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA

“How David Cameron, his government and the Westminster system choose to respond to the message the people of Scotland has sent will be crucial to how we move forward.”

The Smith Commission, which led to the UK government draft devolution paper, was labelled “a strong starting point” which “does not go far enough”.

Ms Sturgeon also called on Labour to back her call for more Holyrood powers, insisting Scots will find it “inexplicable” if these are left in the hands of a ­majority Conservative government with “no mandate in Scotland”.

She added: “I genuinely hope Labour will now think again and join us in arguing for a Scottish Parliament, equipped with the powers we need to build economic prosperity and foster greater social justice.”

Holyrood should be handed control of powers over employment policy “as a matter of ­priority”, Ms Sturgeon said. This would include the minimum wage, welfare, business taxes, national insurance and equality policy.

A vote to leave the EU against Scotland’s will has previously been cited as a “material change of circumstances” which could prompt another Scottish referendum. The SNP will now lay amendments to any EU Referendum Bill to introduce a “double majority” rule ­requiring a Yes majority in each of the constituent parts of the UK.

“For the UK to come out of the EU, it is not enough for the UK as a whole simply to vote for that,” she said. “Each and every member of what we were told was ‘a ­family of nations’ must also do that.”

Labour’s deputy leader, Kezia Dugdale, voiced concerns about the prospect of further attacks on disability ­benefits from the Tory government. “From mums caring for disabled children to adults with long-term conditions – there is fear and trepidation in the air,” she said.

“What reassurances can the First Minister give those individuals, that whilst there is no question that she will give voice to those fears, that she will act here in this Parliament, with the powers she has to protect them as well?”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, meanwhile, hailed her ­party’s performance in Scotland, ­increasing its number of votes to 434,000, which is the most in any election since devolution.

But Ms Sturgeon pointed out that “the Tories scored the lowest percentage share of the vote in Scotland since 1865”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said his party has “lessons to learn” from the election, which saw them reduced to a rump in Westminster. But he attacked Ms Sturgeon for using Scottish Parliament time for a “self-congratulatory SNP party statement which tells us absolutely nothing new”.