Independence the only way forward for Scotland – Nicola Sturgeon

Independence for Scotland is the only way forward, even in the case of a possible future vote for Britain to remain in the EU, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Speaking on the fringes of the British-Irish Council in Dublin, the Scottish First Minister told the PA news agency that even if there was a second EU referendum, it is not certain the outcome would be any different for Scotland – which voted to Remain in 2016.

During First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said her priority for next year is delivering another independence referendum, over a second UK vote on EU membership.

Critics have claimed Ms Sturgeon’s push for an independence vote before another EU referendum is to avoid a situation where the UK votes to Remain, which they say would remove the SNP’s claimed mandate for indyref2.

But Ms Sturgeon said on Friday: “No that’s not the reason for my comments yesterday.

“For me, fundamentally the answer for Scotland to the situation that Brexit has illustrated, which is that the future of Scotland is often in the hands of governments that we haven’t voted for, is to become independent.

“That is the better way of resolving what is an unacceptable situation for many people in Scotland.

“I would support a second EU referendum, the SNP has made that very clear, but we’re not the principle decision-makers there, and it remains far from certain whether that can happen.

“If there is a UK government after the election that puts forward that proposition, the SNP would support it, but there’s no guarantee it would have a different outcome for Scotland. Even if it did, the next time Westminster decides to override the views of the Scottish people, we’re back to this point.

“That’s why the fundamental solution is for Scotland, like Ireland, to be its own independent country.”

British-Irish Council summit
Nicola Sturgeon met Taioseach Leo Varadkar, centre, and Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Irish and Scottish governments have hailed their close ties in recent days, but are on opposing sides when it comes to the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal.

The Irish Government supports the deal, which it says protects the Good Friday Agreement.

Ms Sturgeon said although she supports all measures taken to protect peace on the island of Ireland, Scotland should be given the same terms as Northern Ireland if the UK leaves the EU.

She said: “We take very seriously the obligation to have whatever arrangements that are necessary to protect and preserve peace on the island of Ireland.

“There is an understanding within the Irish Government of the SNP position.

“We do not oppose the deal because of the arrangements to protect the Good Friday Agreement, we do have concerns about the competitive disadvantage for Scotland if Northern Ireland has a special relationship with the EU.

“But the answer is not to take away that solution for Northern Ireland but give the same kind of arrangement for Scotland, albeit we’re in very different circumstances.

Just welcomed ⁦@NicolaSturgeon⁩ to Farmleigh for the start of the ⁦@BICSecretariat⁩ Dublin Summit. We’ll be talking future relations between Ireland, Scotland and UK after #Brexitpic.twitter.com/c3CujLzbMl

— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) November 15, 2019

“We oppose the deal for the reasons to do with the impact on Scotland, but we will always be part of any effort to make sure that we have solutions that are about protecting the Good Friday Agreement and preserving peace, because we understand the vulnerability of these issues.”

Earlier on Friday, Ms Sturgeon joked that Prime Minister Boris Johnson “motivates” people to get out and vote in Scotland – but “perhaps, not the way he might hope”.

She also cautioned those who believe Mr Johnson’s claim that he wants to build a bridge from Scotland to Northern Ireland.

She said: “Boris Johnson has a track record of promising big projects like that and he has no idea how to deliver, ultimately does not deliver.

“I want to see as close connections as possible between Scotland and the island of Ireland, but we’re talking about a very long, deep stretch of water with a munitions dump underneath it, we would need to do an awful lot of very detailed work before we could really understand the feasibility of that.

“I won’t rule out anything that turns out to be feasible, but I would caution against listening to Boris Johnson’s rather glib comments around it.”

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