SNP figures pile Scottish independence pressure on Nicola Sturgeon

0
Have your say

Senior SNP figures have called for Nicola Sturgeon to adopt a more "urgent" approach to staging a second independence referendum ahead of the party's conference this weekend.

Former health Secretary Alex Neil warned a second vote on leaving the UK must take place "as quickly as possible" to offset the looming economic turmoil of Brexit, while ex-Holyrood Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick said many independence supporters want the process "moved forward."

Former health Secretary Alex Neil (top right) warned a second vote on leaving the UK must take place "as quickly as possible" while appearing on the Alex Salmond Show on Russia Today. Pictures: TSPL/PA

Former health Secretary Alex Neil (top right) warned a second vote on leaving the UK must take place "as quickly as possible" while appearing on the Alex Salmond Show on Russia Today. Pictures: TSPL/PA


SNP delegates will gather in Glasgow on Sunday for the start of the three-day Autumn conference. Nicola Sturgeon had been expected to update delegates on her plans for a second independence vote. But this now appears unlikely with no clear picture on the final Brexit deal which the UK is expected to strike with Brussels.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon ‘uncomfortable’ about Alex Salmond allegations


But Mr Neil made his comments on Alex Salmond's controversial chat show on Kremlin-backed RT.

In his introduction, Mr Salmond said the SNP were grappling with “two referenda... whether to support another one on Europe, while promoting another one on Scottish independence.

“All of this while support for independence remains at a very high level and, crucially, the activist base, as measured by the turnout at rallies, seems much more mobilised even than in 2014.”

Mr Neil said: "The quicker we get independence the better, because if you look at the condition of the Scottish economy and the challenges coming down the road with artificial intelligence and all the rest of it," Mr Neil said.

READ MORE: Scots Labour spin chief quits after six months


He added: "Once we know the deal between the UK and the EU, then I think we need to map out very clearly a way forward as quickly as possible towards achieving independence.


"We need independence as urgently as possible so we can get Scotland back up to the top echelons of economic performance and realise the benefits of our own resources for our own people.


And irrespective of whether you're for or against Brexit I think the one thing we're all agreed upon is that Theresa may and her marry band of men and women in the Tory party have shown how not to run a country - not only could we run out own country better than them, we could actually run England better than them."


But the comments came under from Scottish Tory deputy leader Jackson Carlaw who said they don't chime with the concerns of ordinary Scots


“Once again we have been shown just how out of touch the SNP is," he said.


“The majority of Scots simply want the SNP to improve health, education and fill in the potholes. Only the extremist nationalists want to enter another divisive referendum.


“The discredited Salmond Show was a fitting location for such a discussion.”

Ms Marwick, who was Holyrood Presiding Officer during the last referendum in 2014, said many Nationalists want a more urgent approach on the independence issue.


"I think there's a desire for the process of independence to be moved forward by many people.


"They see that as a way to put pressure on everyone involved and say `There's a case for this - you want it, we to move quicker."


The Western Isles Nationalist MP Angus MacNeill has called for an independence referendum to be staged next March, although the time needed to put the necessary legislation through at Holyrood and Westminster would make this impossible.


He said: "If you have no deal, the Scottish Government has to be ready with some lifeboat or life raft to get out of the sinking ship that is the UK."


Mr MacNeil said the 2016 Holyrood election and Brexit vote in Scotland - where two-thirds backed Remain - gave the Scottish Government a "mandate" for a second vote on leaving the UK, he added.


He said the SNP should be "on a footing for a referendum."


He added: "The opportunity and the time is coming very soon."