The SNP led Scottish Government have today published a draft independence referendum Bill to give people in Scotland the “right to decide their future once the current health crisis is over.” Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said the draft Bill is being brought forward to offer Scotland the choice of who is best placed to lead the country’s post-pandemic recovery.
The Scottish Independence Referendum Bill stipulates the next Scottish Parliament should decide the timing of any referendum.
The draft bill says the question asked should be the same as at the 2014 referendum – “Should Scotland be an independent country?”.
Under the proposed legislation, it would also extend voting eligibility to match the franchise at Scottish Parliament and local government elections.
Mr Russell said today: “Our top priority will continue to be dealing with the pandemic and keeping the country safe, but we are optimistic that because of the incredible efforts of people across Scotland better times lie ahead.
“The Scottish Government believes it should be the people living in Scotland who have the right to decide how we recover from the pandemic and what sort of country we wish to build after the crisis.
“If Westminster maintains its control, recent history shows what Scotland can expect: an economic recovery hindered by a hard Brexit that is already taking a significant toll and the continued, systematic undermining of devolution, which is weakening our parliament’s powers to maintain food and environmental standards and protect the NHS from post-Brexit trade deals.
“Scotland’s recovery should be made by the people who live here and who care most about Scotland.”
Scottish Government officials say in the bill that a second vote should be held “within the first half of the next parliamentary term, when it is safe to do so.”
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The paper says if there is a majority of politicians in the Scottish Parliament after May’s election for an independence referendum then “there can be no democratic justification whatsoever for any Westminster government to seek to block a post-pandemic referendum.”
This afternoon, however, Holyrood’s opposition parties claimed a second independence referendum was a “reckless distraction” while Scotland deals with the pandemic.
It comes as Ms Sturgeon is due to find out whether she has broken the Scottish Government ministerial code over a meeting she held with Alex Salmond through the publication of a report by James Hamilton QC.
Douglas Ross, Scottish Conservative leader said: “It is beyond the comprehension of most Scots that Nicola Sturgeon considers this to be a priority.
“Scotland continues to be gripped by the gobal pandemic and even once normality slowly returns, the shockwaves will be felt for years to come.
“The SNP Government is mired in sleaze with nothing left to offer except yet more division and grievance.”
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