Theresa May ‘won’t be here to stop indyref2’, says Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has not asked Jeremy Corbyn if he would allow a second Scottish independence referendum as Prime Minister, but claimed he would back it if he wasn’t Labour leader.

The First Minister also suggested she did not expect the Conservatives to stand by their refusal to allow a second referendum because Theresa May is unlikely to remain at the head of the government.

Speaking shortly before she met the two main party leaders in London on Wednesday to discuss their ‘national unity’ talks to find a Brexit compromise, Ms Sturgeon told the BBC that she would finally set out her timetable for independence when the length of delay to the UK’s exit becomes clear.

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Asked if she had brought up independence with Mr Corbyn, the First Minister told the Podlitical podcast: “We’ve not had that specific conversation.

The First Minister says Theresa May won't be in power to stop a second independence referendum. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
The First Minister says Theresa May won't be in power to stop a second independence referendum. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

“I daresay there will come a point when we may well have that conversation, but the interesting thing about Jeremy Corbyn is that before he became leader of the Labour Party, I’m sure he would have been absolutely fullsquare behind the right of the people of Scotland to choose their own future.

“I’m not criticising him for this - I think it’s broadly the right position to support self-determination for countries all over the globe. It would be more than passing strange if he didn’t do that for Scotland.”

Asked what she would do if the UK Government continued to refuse permission for a second referendum, Ms Sturgeon added: “The UK Government hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory when it’s come to taking positions, sticking to them and seeing them through in the last wee while.

“This is a UK Government that I don’t even know is going to exist by the end of this week. We’ve got a Prime Minister who has said herself that she’s on her way out of office. The Tories are split from top to bottom.

Explaining the delay to her announcement on steps towards a second independence referendum, Ms Sturgeon said: “I underestimated the complete incompetence of the UK Government in this whole process.”

At First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon warned the Prime Minister and Mr Corbyn against a “cobbled together, behind closed doors, least worst compromise” in Brexit talks.

She told the Scottish Parliament that there should be a second EU referendum “in all circumstances”. The First Minister warned MSPs: “I am very concerned that a deal may lead to a legally binding Withdrawal Agreement being passed that would irrevocably take the UK out of the EU on the strength of non-legally binding commitments about the future relationship that could be ripped up by a future Prime Minister, perish the thought, such as Boris Johnson.”

Ms Sturgeon said pharmaceutical companies had given the “broad assurance” six weeks’ worth of medicine has been stockpiled for a no-deal Brexit, but stressed no amount of preparation could fully mitigate the impact of leaving the EU without a deal.

Labour leader Richard Leonard called for Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to bring his budget back to Holyrood by next week if Holyrood is recalled from recess. Ms Sturgeon said Mr Mackay would bring the budget back as soon as possible in that case, but it was unlikely to be next Thursday or Friday.