SNP MEP: Now is not the time to push for IndyRef2

The SNP continues to be split over whether now is the time for Nicola Sturgeon to call a second Scottish referendum, with one of the party’s MEPs insisting it is not time yet to “push the button” on such a vote.

A pro-independence march heads through Glasgow in July 2018. Picture: John Devlin

Alyn Smith said despite the “seething frustration” of Scots about how the country was being treated by Westminster, uncertainty over what will happen with Brexit meant practical questions over independence remained unanswered.

Mr Smith said while leaving the UK was “one of the options”, those in favour of this needed to “ca’canny”.

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Ms Sturgeon has already pledged she will make her views known on the possible timing of a second independence referendum in a “matter of weeks”.

Her predecessor Alex Salmond has argued there is “not likely to be a better time to force the issue” in the wake of Theresa May’s Brexit deal defeat.

That view was reiterated by SNP Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil, who said it was time for calls for a fresh independence vote “to come to fore”, urging Ms Sturgeon to prioritise this over demands for a second European referendum.

Others in the SNP are more cautious, with MP Stewart McDonald tweeting others may “want to weaponise our politics for malign reasons”.

Mr Smith responded: “I think it beyond argument that there are malign actors (from various places and perspectives) at work in Scotland’s debate. We all need to ca’canny.”

He told BBC Radio Scotland “practical questions” about what independence could mean would remain.

Brexit uncertainty means the SNP is not yet ready to “push the button” on a second Scottish independence referendum, he said, “until we see what the end point of the UK is likely to be relative to the EU”.

With Scotland having voted in 2016 to stay part of the EU and with SNP ministers consistently accusing the UK Government’s of “ignoring” Scotland’s wishes, Mr Smith told the Good Morning Scotland programme: “There is a seething frustration across the whole of Scotland about how Scotland is being treated over Brexit, given our clear vote to remain and how we have been treated since.

“Within the SNP and the Yes movement, yes there are number of folks who think we should just go for independence now. I am not of that view.”

“There are practical questions about what the independence proposition is going to be, vis-a-vis the EU and vis-a-vis the rest of the UK, and until we see what the end point of the UK is likely to be relative to the EU, then there are practical questions we’re not ready with yet.”

Pressed on whether a second vote on independence could happen this year, Mr Smith said: “Everything’s possible but I don’t think we’re ready to press the button on a independence referendum yet, because there is too many moving parts to Brexit.”