SNP to target '˜soft' No voters in new Scottish independence drive

Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to take a 'reality check' after it emerged she will launch a new drive for ­independence this week, ­asking No voters why they backed remaining in the UK in 2014.

Nicola Sturgeon will make the call this week. Picture: contributed
Nicola Sturgeon will make the call this week. Picture: contributed

The First Minister is to stage an event in Stirling with SNP politicians to kick-start an ­initiative to win over Scots who came down on the side of the union two years ago.

Ms Sturgeon has said that another vote on independence is now “highly likely” after the Brexit vote which saw 62 per cent of Scots vote in favour of staying in the EU, while the weight of Leave votes south of the border swung the result.

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“We want to listen to everyone in Scotland and understand their perspective on independence,” an SNP source said. “It will be trying to reach out to people that were not with us.”

The cross-party Scottish Independence Convention is to be relaunched with chairwoman Elaine C Smith announcing a major rally in Glasgow on 18 September, the two-year anniversary of the last referendum. A recent YouGov poll showed support for independence at 47 per cent, two points up on 2014, while 53 per cent of Scots back remaining in the UK.

But pro-union parties have called on Ms Sturgeon to focus on services after a £15 billion hole in Scotland’s ­public finances was exposed in the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) ­figures last week.

A Labour spokesman said: “With so many challenges ­facing Scotland – the attainment gap in classrooms, the huge deficit exposed by GERS, thousands of young ­people waiting longer than they should for mental health treatment, a lack of access to affordable childcare and the link between poverty and ill-health – it’s time for the SNP government to focus on the bread and butter issues of government.

“The GERS figures should act as a reality check for those calling for another independence referendum.”

The SNP’s manifesto for the Holyrood elections in May did state that if Scotland was taken out of the EU against its will it would reserve the right to call another referendum.

When this transpired in the June vote , Ms Sturgeon immediately warned she was committed to retaining Scotland’s relationship with the EU and all options are “on the table”.

A Scottish Government report last week set out a potential £11 billion annual cost to Scotland’s economy ­following the Brexit vote.