Nicola Sturgeon prioritises indyref2 over second Brexit vote
Nicola Sturgeon has made clear she would prioritise holding a second independence referendum over a fresh vote on Brexit.
It came after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – who the Conservatives fear would do a deal with the SNP over an independence referendum in a bid to win the keys to Downing Street – sought to clarify his position on the timing of such a vote.
Mr Corbyn said a future Labour government would “certainly not” allow another independence vote in its first two years in office.
That came after he said on Wednesday he would not permit a Scottish referendum in the first five-year term of a Labour administration, before later stating it would not happen in the “early years”.
Ms Sturgeon appeared to make fun at Labour’s changing stance.
The SNP leader tweeted: “Yesterday it was ‘not in the first term’. Today, it’s ‘not in the first two years’. By the end of the week, at this rate, Corbyn will be demanding #indyref2020.”
Ms Sturgeon has already set out plans to hold a second independence referendum in the later part of 2020, and will write to the PM – whoever that may be – shortly after the election to demand the power to do so.
But with the SNP also in favour of holding a second Brexit referendum, Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw pressed Ms Sturgeon on her “big double referendum promise”.
During First Minister’s Questions, he called on Ms Sturgeon to “clarify” details of the timings for such votes.
He said: “As she keeps telling us, she would ask Jeremy Corbyn for a referendum on independence and demand it’s held next year.
“And we know too that she would support Mr Corbyn’s plan for a second Brexit referendum, also to be held next year.
“Now First Minister, clarify for me a simple question on timetabling. When is all this supposed to happen? Both referendums on the one day or different days?
“Which vote would come first – indyref, euroref – which?”
Ms Sturgeon replied: “My priority – and I can’t believe Jackson Carlaw hasn’t actually cottoned on to this yet, he should maybe listen a bit more – my priority is to give the people of Scotland the opportunity to choose independence next year and I look forward to delivering on that.”
Her comments came after Mr Corbyn further clarified his stance on holding an independence referendum, saying it would not happen in “the first two years” of a Labour government.
“Certainly not in the first two years of the government, we certainly would not be countenancing an independence referendum,” he said, when asked if the 2021 Holyrood election result could play a part in such a decision.
Mr Carlaw said: “Given how his position on a second independence referendum has weakened every time he has come to Scotland, pro-UK supporters in Scotland will be glad Mr Corbyn isn’t staying another day.
“Nobody now can have the slightest shred of doubt – Mr Corbyn is a clear and present danger to the most successful political union in history.
“He must be stopped – and only a vote for the Scottish Conservatives will do that.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, meanwhile, accused the First Minister of having “abandoned Remain voters across the UK” by prioritising an independence vote ahead of a second Brexit referendum.
Mr Rennie said: “For people across the UK campaigning to Remain in the European Union, this will be hugely disappointing.”