Nicola Sturgeon has said it is “more important than ever” for the Scottish Government to plan for a second vote on independence after Boris Johnson won the keys to Number 10.
After the former foreign secretary was elected as Theresa May’s successor by Tory party members, the Scottish First Minister said she had “profound concerns about the prospect of his premiership”.
The SNP leader insisted the incoming prime minister’s plans to complete Brexit “do or die” by October 31 were “deeply irresponsible”.
4. And I will continue to advance the preparations to give Scotland the right to choose our own future through independence, rather than having a future that we don’t want imposed on us by Boris Johnson and the Tories. That is now more important than ever.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 23, 2019
And while she vowed her Government and the SNP would oppose a no-deal exit from the European Union, she made clear Scots should have the “right to determine our own future”.
Ms Sturgeon tweeted: “I will continue to advance the preparations to give Scotland the right to choose our own future through independence, rather than having a future that we don’t want imposed on us by Boris Johnson and the Tories. That is now more important than ever.”
The Scottish Government has already published legislation which could potentially pave the way for a second vote on independence.
The First Minister insisted: “Scotland did not vote for Brexit, or for the current Tory Government – and certainly not for Boris Johnson as prime minister.
“All of this underlines the need for Scotland to have the right to determine our own future, in line with the democratic wishes of all those who live here.”
Statement. Interview to follow. pic.twitter.com/d30QpKYfwb
— Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonMSP) July 23, 2019
But Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson – who backed Mr Johnson’s opponent, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, in the contest – insisted the future of the union would not be determined by the political personalities of the day.
She told BBC Scotland: “I find it interesting that Nicola Sturgeon is saying that this is an indyref2 trigger, in the same way as she said her husband burning the toast could be.
“Brexit was supposed to be the one thing that pushed Scotland over the line, then it was Theresa May replacing David Cameron.
“Actually I think Scots are a bit cannier about this, people understand that a 300-year-old union isn’t decided by the personalities of the day, whether that is Alex Salmond, who was a Marmite politician, whether that is Boris Johnson, who arguably some people could say the same.”
Ms Davidson, who has ruled herself out of ever serving as PM, added: “I think people understand that the constitutional future of our country is a much more long term decision. There is no majority for a second indyref in Scotland.
“I hope Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t try to push that button again, although she has tried several times in the last five years, because I think we’ve got serious problems in Scotland to sort out.”
Ms Sturgeon however said she had “profound concerns” about the prospect of Mr Johnson’s premiership, insisting it would be “hypocritical not to be frank about these”.
The SNP leader said: “These are concerns that I am certain will be shared by the vast majority of people in Scotland who, had they been given any say, would not have chosen to hand the keys of Number 10 to someone with his views and track record.”
Speaking about the “gravity” of the situation Mr Johnson will inherit as PM, Ms Sturgeon said: “Brexit of any kind would be deeply damaging to Scotland and the rest of the UK, but his public pledge to leave the EU by October 31 – ‘come what may’ and ‘do or die’ – flies in the face of logic, common sense or any basic regard for the well-being of the people and nations of the UK.
“It is a deeply irresponsible threat, and not one that should be contemplated by any serious political leader. It should now be taken off the table without delay or equivocation.
“A no-deal Brexit would do huge damage to jobs, investment and living standards as well as posing serious and totally unnecessary questions on critical issues such as medical supplies.
“The Scottish Government will be at the forefront of all and any moves to stop Brexit and block a no-deal Brexit, as will SNP MPs in the House of Commons.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell said “the best reaction to the election of Boris Johnson is to join @theSNP”.
Patrick Harvie, the co-convener of the pro-independence Scottish Green Party, also insisted: “Scotland needs a route out of Boris’ Brexit Britain, and while we already have a firm mandate to hold a referendum, Johnson’s elevation to the office of Prime Minister on the back of bluff and bluster is hugely concerning and reinforces the need to hold this vote urgently.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard branded the new PM and his party a “real and present danger to Scotland’s place in the UK”.
He said that Mr Johnson “represents a dangerous form of English nationalism” and he had “some time ago abandoned the unionist tradition of the Conservative and Unionist party”.
Meanwhile the new Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson claimed Mr Johnson “isn’t fit to be the Prime Minister of our country”.
She said: “Whether it is throwing people under the bus or writing a lie on the side of one: Britain deserves better than Boris Johnson.