Nicola Sturgeon doing the 'responsible thing' on a second referendum as she accuses Boris Johnson of disrespecting democracy

·3 min read

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is doing "the responsible thing" as she pursues a second referendum on Scottish independence - and has contested whether the right to call a vote lies with the UK's Supreme Court.

Scotland's first minister has also accused Boris Johnson of disrespecting democracy and not following the rule of law.

She told Sky News there is stronger backing for a new referendum in the Holyrood parliament than there was for Brexit in the Westminster parliament.

When it was put to her that calling a referendum is not the prerogative of a devolved government, Ms Sturgeon told Kay Burley: "The whole point I'm making is that that is contested, but you cannot say that as a statement of fact because it hasn't been judicially determined.

"That's what we are, through the decision of the Lord Advocate in Scotland, seeking to get - a judicial determination of that point."

But she added that such legal argument "wouldn't be necessary, of course, if Boris Johnson and the UK government simply respected democracy and agreed the process to put a referendum beyond legal doubt".

Ms Sturgeon continued: "I'm doing the responsible thing - a referendum has to be lawful.

"I'm not like Boris Johnson, who's of course breaching international law with his actions on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

"I respect the rule of law, which is why we are taking the path I set out yesterday - that's the responsible thing to do.

"But I also respect democracy. Scottish democracy cannot be a prisoner of Boris Johnson or any UK prime minister.

"The people of Scotland must have the right to choose."

Ms Sturgeon has set a date of 19 October 2023 for a "consultative referendum".

'Referendum was once in a generation'

But Labour's shadow levelling up secretary, Lisa Nandy, said Ms Sturgeon "has some brass neck".

She told Sky News: "She and her friends in the SNP were the ones who said that the independence referendum (in 2014) was a once in a generation chance to settle the question."

Ms Nandy continued: "What she's done in the last 24 hours is nothing to do with the interests of Scotland, it's to do with the interests of the SNP.

"She's launching an election bid. There are 700,000 people on waiting lists in Scotland for NHS treatment.

"If I were in charge in Scotland, I would be looking very seriously at how to tackle that crisis. This is a thing that is keeping families in Scotland awake at night, and she ought to be focusing on that."

Tackled on that topic, Ms Sturgeon accused the UK administration of cutting finding.

She said Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and parts of England were all suffering from "a chancellor who is pursuing austerity politics rather than investing".

"We would be better able to deal with support for our public services if we are in charge of all the levers that effectively determine the environment and the financial situation that we are operating within," she added.

'Sturgeon knows time is running out'

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Ms Sturgeon was in a race against the clock.

He told Sky News: "The problem for Nicola is time is running out, and I think she knows (that).

"For all the spin she puts on separation, she knows that every day that goes past, (she is) further away from her referendum."

Mr Wallace said division had been "stoked up the first time round" and "people are feeling that belonging to the UK is probably a better option".

He added: "If you look at COVID, the scale of support to Scotland could only have been delivered by political union."

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