SNP Deputy says Nicola Sturgeon should call Indyref2 without UK permission

The Deputy leader of the SNP has been criticised after comments emerged in which he endorsed holding a referendum on independence even if the UK Government refused to transfer the legal power to do so.

Keith Brown, who has been tasked by party leader Nicola Sturgeon with increasing support for independence, told activists that the Yes campaign ‘shouldn’t be willing to anticipate a refusal of a Section 30 order as a reason not to call a referendum.’

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A Section 30 order would be required if the Scottish Government is to be given the legal power to hold a referendum, as it was in the build up to the 2014 vote.

Keith Brown. Picture: John Devlin.

Theresa May has indicated that any attempt to seek a Section 30 order would be refused out of hand by her Government.

In comments first reported by the Scottish Sun, Mr Brown added: “If we want to have a referendum, then we decide we’re going to have a referendum.

“But there is a worry - I know Nicola’s concerned with the fact - that the arguments over a Section 30 can start to dissipate the support for independence. So that’s a worry as well.

“So, there’s all these kind of judgements, but, and the other point of course to make is that we have a mandate.”

The comments were made to an audience from ‘The Aberdeen Independence Movement’.

Nicola Sturgeon announced a ‘pause’ in her plans for a second referendum after the SNP suffered setbacks at the 2017 general election, with the Scottish Conservatives cashing in thanks to an anti-referendum platform.

However, as Brexit chaos has increased, Ms Sturgeon has said that a new plan to hold a referendum will be announced in the first half of 2019.

Interim Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw told the paper that the report showed Nicola Sturgeon was ‘plotting an illegal referendum’.