Independence Referendum

– in the Scottish Parliament on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

1. Yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn again declared that he is prepared to grant an independence referendum if he becomes Prime Minister. Given that they are here and that they have given in, would the First Minister like to thank Labour Party members personally?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Actually, the pact that I am most interested in this morning is the one that I read about in

The Times between Labour and the Tories to help the Liberal Democrats in Ian Blackford’s seat. I am confident that Ian Blackford will see that off without too much difficulty.

I have to say that I think that United Kingdom Labour’s position on an independence referendum is a lot more democratic than that of Scottish Labour, which opposes independence and does not want another referendum. UK Labour recognises that it is down to the people of Scotland to decide that question. That is a basic issue of democracy.

Conversely, the position of the Tories, Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats appears to be to say to the Scottish people at the very start of an election campaign: “We don’t care how you vote. We’re going to ignore you, however you vote.” Why would anybody vote for such a contemptuous attitude?

The choice for the people of Scotland at this election is clear: it is Brexit—and a bad Brexit at that—with the Tories, or it is stopping Brexit with the Scottish National Party and putting the right to choose Scotland’s future and the right to choose independence into the hands of the people of Scotland.

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

Both the First Minister and I can agree that there is nothing that anyone can do to help the Liberal Democrats and that it will take more than a spoonful of sugar to swallow anything that their leader is offering. However, just two weeks ago at her party conference, the First Minister said that Jeremy Corbyn should not even pick up the phone if he was not prepared to agree to a referendum. Now that Mr Corbyn has made plain that he is, indeed, happy to concede to having that referendum, is it not obvious to everyone that the First Minister would roll out the red carpet herself in Downing Street so that Corbyn could walk into number 10?

The First Minister:

What has become obvious to Scotland over the past few years is that, whether it is the Tories or Labour, the Westminster system is broken.

That is why the people of Scotland need the choice of independence, and only the Scottish National Party will give the people of Scotland the choice over our own future. I do not want Boris Johnson to be determining the future of Scotland. I want that choice to be the people’s choice, and that is what they will get if they vote SNP.

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

I am a little puzzled that the First Minister is being so coy because, like me, she does not rate Mr Corbyn. Only last month she said that she was “no fan”. Worse, she has described him as “pitifully ineffective”, “unreliable” and “unelectable.” Perhaps she can enlighten the chamber—what is it that first attracted her to the independence referendum-supporting Jeremy Corbyn?

The First Minister:

I do not know whether this will come as a shock to anybody—I am not sure that I am giving the newspapers or broadcasters any great exclusive—but I announce that I think that the leaders of the main two United Kingdom parties are completely and utterly useless. I do not think that they have got Scotland’s interests at heart. That is one of the many reasons why I think that Scotland needs to be independent. That would allow us to be a country at the top table in Europe, to invest Scotland’s wealth in our public services and to lift children out of poverty.

I am determined to give the people of Scotland the choice to be independent. On 12 December, if voters want to stop Brexit and take charge of the future of Scotland, they should vote SNP. That is the clear and unequivocal message from my party at this election.

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

This Saturday, the First Minister will start her election campaign the only way she knows how: by ignoring the priorities of most people in Scotland, refusing to listen to the majority and instead addressing yet another SNP independence rally in Glasgow.

The choice is clear: either Scotland moves forward together and puts the constitutional division of the past few years behind us, or we choose more division, more uncertainty and the prospect of a Corbyn-Sturgeon alliance dividing us all over again. A vote for the Scottish Conservatives is a vote to end the division, get Brexit sorted and say no to another independence referendum. Is that not the choice for the people of Scotland?

The First Minister:

I can understand why Jackson Carlaw is feeling a little bit irate. His party has so much—or, perhaps, so little—confidence in him that it has put the picture of a back bencher on its election letters instead of his picture. I understand why he is feeling a little bit sensitive this morning. [

Interruption

.] I think that I might have touched a raw nerve there.

I have got news for Jackson Carlaw. Yesterday, I started my election campaign in Stirling, because that is one of my constituencies where my party plans to oust a Tory MP. I am looking forward immensely to the election, because everybody across Scotland knows that the only way to end the Tory-created Brexit division is to stop Brexit in its tracks. On 12 December, people will have the choice to vote SNP, to stop Brexit and to give the people of Scotland the right to choose a better, brighter future as an independent country.