Nicola Sturgeon says 'even Margaret Thatcher' would have backed Scottish independence referendum in fresh dig at Government

Ms Sturgeon has also accused Westminster of taking a 'wrecking ball' to the idea of a voluntary UK

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Nicola Sturgeon has claimed that "even Margaret Thatcher" would have backed a Scottish independence referendum.

On Tuesday Ms Sturgeon will outline her plans for holding a second referendum on Scotland’s future in the UK to the Scottish Parliament.

She said that the case for a referendum is “now as much a Scottish democracy movement as a Scottish independence movement”.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

The First Minister has said she intends the vote to be held in October 2023, but there are significant barriers in the way as the Westminster Government is unlikely to approve the plans.

She added that even previous Tory leaders from Margaret Thatcher to Theresa May said they believed the UK was based on the consent of the people who lived in its constituent nations.

She said: “It is time for Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer to respect, not rubbish, the wishes of the people of Scotland and their democratically elected government – and to respect the pledge their parties signed after the 2014 referendum promising that nothing prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose.

“For 70 percent of the time since 1979 Scotland has been governed by a Tory Government we didn’t elect. Enough is enough.

“It’s time to restore basic democracy in Scotland to ensure people get the governments they vote for and through independence to build a proper partnership of equals between Scotland and our friends in the rest of the United Kingdom.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “Westminster is taking a wrecking ball to the idea of the United Kingdom as a voluntary partnership of nations.

“A Tory Government with just six MPs from Scotland, supported on this issue by Labour, is seeking to deny the democratic right of the people of Scotland to choose their own future.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson

“In doing so they are demonstrating beyond doubt that in place of a voluntary partnership they believe the UK is instead defined by Westminster control.

“The case for a referendum is therefore now as much a Scottish democracy movement as a Scottish independence movement.”

A section 30 order, a clause in the Scotland Act which would grant a legal referendum, is required for a referendum but the UK Government has repeatedly rejected requests for one.

A UK Government spokesman said: “Now is not the time to be talking about another referendum.

“People across Scotland rightly want and expect to see both of their governments working together with a relentless focus on the issues that matter to them, their families and communities.

“That means tackling the cost of living, protecting our long-term energy security, leading the international response against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and growing our economy so that everyone has access to the opportunities, skills and jobs for the future.”

Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: “This is a transparent attempt to whip up division and distract from the chaos engulfing the SNP.

“Nicola Sturgeon is in no position to lecture anyone about listening to the people of Scotland, as she ignores the cost-of-living crisis hanging over people’s lives and ploughs ahead with a costly, unwanted and damaging referendum.

“The reality is the Tories and the SNP are working hand in hand to tear communities apart in a bid to distract from their own failures.”