Scottish Parliament: Independence Referendum - Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:29 pm on 20th July 2022.

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Photo of Lord Offord of Garvel Lord Offord of Garvel The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland 3:29 pm, 20th July 2022

Yes, I do, and I agree with the noble Earl. This might be recognised in the 2021 election for Holyrood: the First Minister was trying to persuade Scots to vote for her on her Covid record, but the minute she got into power, her campaign went back to being a mandate for a referendum.

I agree that we have a lot of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth the whole time, but we must look at what this is actually based on. The population of Scotland is 5.3 million, of whom 4.3 million are eligible to vote. In the 2014 independence referendum, 3.6 million Scots voted—an extraordinary percentage of 84%, the highest in any country other than Australia, where it is mandatory to vote. Noble Lords should compare this with the 2.6 million Scots who voted in the EU referendum; so 1 million more Scots voted for the UK union than for the European Union. The point is that, in the 2019 general election, 1.3 million Scots voted for the nationalists, against the 1.6 million who voted in the referendum. As they are in territory of around 1.3 million or 1.4 million votes out of an electorate of 4.3 million, I do not believe that this is a mandate for independence.