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Referendums (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 7th November 2019.

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Photo of Mike Rumbles Mike Rumbles Liberal Democrat

No.

Nicola Sturgeon asked us to judge her Government on its performance on education. Is it any wonder that the First Minister now wants to focus on indyref 2, rather than the state of Scottish education?

The First Minister has made it clear that, before the end of the year, she will ask whoever is Prime Minister to authorise another divisive referendum in order to break up our country—just five years after the UK and Scottish Governments said in the Edinburgh agreement that they would honour the result of the 2014 referendum. Of course, I do not expect the two nationalist parties in the Parliament ever to give up on their nationalist aims to break up Britain, but I did expect that the Scottish Government’s commitment to uphold the 2014 result would last, to quote the First Minister at the time, a certain Alex Salmond—remember him?—for “a generation”.

At least our current First Minister is clear. She wishes to tear up the Edinburgh agreement and focus everything on her ambition to break up Britain, and the Referendums (Scotland) Bill is the first step along the legislative route to doing that. She was warned about the implications by the head of the civil service in Scotland—we have

The Herald to thank for publicising that. Not only did the permanent secretary say that there would be “wider implications” for the Government’s business, but the First Minister was also told that constitutional change would mean the “deprioritisation of activity”—in other words, it would have direct implications for getting on with the day job of running Scotland properly.

The Scottish Government has seen fit to ignore—