SNP could boycott Westminster if indyref2 refused, MP warns

The Scottish Government should organise a referendum on independence itself and begin to “withdraw from the apparatus of the British state” if the UK Government continues to refuse the legal permission to hold indyref2, a senior SNP MP has said.

Pete Wishart, the longest-serving SNP MP and a member of the nationalist front bench at Westminster, said the Scottish Government should begin “withdrawing from the apparatus of the UK state” if the UK Government doesn’t respect a request from a majority administration at Holyrood for a new referendum.

Mr Wishart has warned against holding an unofficial independence vote, without the legal authority under section 30 of the Scotland Act as in 2014.

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He argued the independence movement risked being stuck in the same “hellish limbo” as Catalonia, which held a referendum in 2017 without legal authority from the Spanish government.

In a blog post, the Perthshire MP says securing a majority in the 2021 Scottish election “should be the end of the matter” and lead swiftly to an agreement with the UK Government on a referendum.

But if Boris Johnson’s government continues to refuse legal authority for a vote, Mr Wishart says Nicola Sturgeon “should be prepared to move beyond the section 30 process”.

“If the UK refuses to participate in an agreed referendum in the face of majority support and a clear democratic mandate, we must presume that they have decided to exempt themselves from their obligations and responsibilities as a partner in the Union,” Mr Wishart says.

“We would then have the grounds to seek to secure our independence without their participation. This should involve a referendum designed in Scotland where a last invitation is offered to the UK to participate to put the case to remain in the Union.

The SNP's longest-serving MP, Pete Wishart, wants the Scottish Government to organise a referendum on its own if an indyref2 is refused by Boris Johnson after next year's Holyrood election. Picture: John Devlin

“A request to the EU to sanction this referendum should be made and every attempt to involve them in the designing of that referendum should be pursued.”

The SNP MP continues: “We should also concurrently start ‘the equivalent’ of an accession process as a substate to rejoin the EU.

“Where there is no provision in the EU rules to allow for this, we should express our intention to rejoin and seek their approval and participation in designing a process to achieve that outcome.

“We would say to the EU that the UK is refusing our democratic right as a nation to be part of the EU and we should do all we can to keep Scotland aligned with EU regulations.

“Beyond that, we should be looking at withdrawing from the apparatus of the UK state and starting to informally acquire the responsibilities currently exercised by the UK.

“This could start by withdrawing from the inter governmental infrastructure determining the management of the four nations of the UK. This could be escalated up to and including the participation in institutions of the UK Parliament.”

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