Scottish independence: SNP and Scottish Greens to publish joint independence plans

The SNP and the Scottish Greens are set to draw up and publish a joint government prospectus on independence which will be put to voters in 2023.

In an exclusive interview with The Herald, Lorna Slater revealed that plans were underway to publish the prospectus under plans to hold a new referendum next year.

It comes as campaign plans get set to ramp up across Scotland in the next few months and marks the first time that the Greens have said they will be involved in the drafting of the Indyref2 prospectus - which is currently being updated by the Scottish Government.

Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater who joined the Scottish Government last year as part of the SNP-Green co-operation agreement, said the Greens would also be publishing their own prospectus in addition to the government’s plan.

Could Scotland be heading to an independence referendum in 2023?

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It is unclear if the prospectus will be a host of different publications or one white paper.

While both parties support independence some policies are excluded from the co-operation agreement, such as their stances on membership of Nato.

Nicola Sturgeon has said the document will be a “detailed prospectus” which will renew the case for independence, and in January it was revealed a team of 11 civil servants had begun work on it.

Lorna Slater told The Herald: "There will be more than one prospectus for independence. The Scottish Greens will develop a prospectus for independence but as part of the Scottish Government we will also contribute to the Scottish Government's prospectus.

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"It's clear from the Bute House agreement and from our manifestos that there are many places where the Scottish Greens and the SNP agree, but many places where we disagree and that's why the Bute House agreement includes the excluded items."

"I would expect to help shape that government manifesto. It wouldn't fully encapsulate a Green vision for Scotland, so the Scottish Greens will produce our own Green vision for Scotland."

She added: “"I am not sure 100% sure what form it will take, whether it will be a single paper or a series of papers, exactly how that prospectus will be brought forward. But certainly the government position will be jointly created.

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"We are trying to bring a different type of politics from what you see in Westminster, where there's shouting across the aisles, where we can sit down and negotiate sensibly. We can identify where we share a vision and where we don't.

"So I know the government shares our vision for a net zero future, on growing renewable resources, on EU membership. Wonderful, these are things we agree on."

"Obviously we are more than a year from the referendum so this is the time to have a national conversation about that. In working out the Bute House agreement, we sat down and discussed the issues," she said.

"The Scottish Green party has some work to do. We are developing our independence prospectus and we will flesh out our position on these things and I am sure other political parties are doing the same.

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"So over the course of the next year, before we start the campaign in earnest, we have time to have those conversations and start to flesh out those details. So at the moment, we are just at the beginning of that process, pulling out our paper work from 2014 and having a look at it and seeing what's changed, where has the conversation moved on. We are at the start of that process just now."

Asked if she was confident of a new vote happening in 2023, Ms Slater said: "That is the timetable we are signed up to. Legislation will be coming into parliament this year."

She added: "That is certainly the plan, that's the vision for it, that's what we are committed to. The Greens said this term of parliament. We're saying next year is a good year.”

"It's an exciting time. I am really looking forward to having that conversation about what kind of Scotland we want to be and to setting out that vision."

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Scottish Labour accused the two parties in the Scottish Government of "a total dereliction of duty in the middle of a growing cost of living crisis".

Scottish Labour’s Constitution spokeswoman Sarah Boyack hit out saying: “We are rebuilding from the pandemic, our NHS is in crisis, and the Scottish Government are selling off everything from our seabeds to our ferry contracts."

The Scottish Conservatives dismissed the Greens as "extremist and anti-business".

Work on the prospectus is taking place within the constitution directorate, overseen by Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson.