SNP dissent over linking indyref2 to Brexit

Auditoriu. Angus Robertson and Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA
Auditoriu. Angus Robertson and Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA
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There was dissent from a number of SNP members over the policy’s stance on linking a second independence referendum to Brexit, as the party debated Scotland’s place in Europe.

Delegates at the conference overwhelmingly backed a resolution stating that “if no viable solution to safeguard our membership as part of the UK exists, Scotland should prepare for a second independence referendum and seek to remain in Europe as an independent country”.

However, it faced opposition from several delegates, highlighting Nicola Sturgeon’s challenge in deciding when to call a second referendum.

Delegate Robert Martin, a Leave voter, said: “A million of my fellow Scots also voted leave amongst 17 million others. I don’t think this motion really considers properly what our relationship with the EU and Europe is in any shape or form.”

Mr Martin said the SNP’s stance “doesn’t address the economic risks of disrupting our relationship with the rest of the UK in order to pursue a relationship with a smaller effective export market in the rest of Europe”.

Referring to leading EU figures during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, he added: “They weren’t exactly putting the welcome mat out for us, they were actually trying to slam the door in our faces.” Another delegate, Alex Orr, warned that the resolution would “tie our First Minister’s hands” over the timing of an independence vote.

Speaking in support of the resolution, Mike Russell, the Scottish Government’s Brexit minister, said Scotland had to play a full part in Brexit negotiations “as a nation”.

“We will not accept the arrogant assumption that we can sit in the corner while somebody else speaks on behalf of the vital interests of Scotland,” Mr Russell said.