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Referendums

– in the Scottish Parliament on 14th November 2019.

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Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

1. The First Minister confirmed this week that she wants not just one referendum next year, but two. Given that she has ignored the result of the previous two, why would anyone believe that she would behave differently this time round? (S5F-03706)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Well, I am rumbled, because I want the people of Scotland to be able to escape a Tory Brexit that will damage our economy, our society and the prospects of future generations. I want Scotland to be able to escape years and years of further Tory wrangling on Brexit and, yes, I want the people of Scotland to have the opportunity to choose a different future. I will seek to persuade the people of Scotland, in making that choice, to choose independence so that we can build the more prosperous, fairer and more equal Scotland that I believe we are capable of being. I cannot understand why anybody on any of the Opposition benches would not want exactly the same thing.

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

Interestingly, the one thing that the First Minister did not say was that she would behave any differently if she lost next time round. She is always confident that she is going to win a referendum, but her track record shows that she always loses.

I ask the question because I am just not sure that the First Minister has thought through her big double referendum promise. As she keeps telling us, she would ask Jeremy Corbyn for a referendum on independence and demand that it is held next year. We know, too, that she would support Mr Corbyn’s plan for a second Brexit referendum, also to be held next year. Can the First Minister clarify for me a simple question on timetabling? When is all that supposed to happen? Would both referendums be on one day or on different days? Which vote would come first: indyref or Euroref?

The First Minister:

I cannot believe that Jackson Carlaw has not actually cottoned on to this yet—he should maybe listen a bit more—because my priority is to give the people of Scotland the opportunity to choose independence next year and I look forward to delivering on that.

Jackson Carlaw is mistaken when it comes to past referendums, and he might also be conveniently forgetting this fact: in the 2016 Brexit referendum, I campaigned for remain—actually, memory tells me that so did Jackson Carlaw. Scotland voted to remain in the European Union by 62 per cent to 38 per cent. That is the referendum result that I want to see honoured. The question for Jackson Carlaw is why he is so willing to ignore how people in Scotland voted on that question.

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

We heard it from the First Minister there: her priority used to be education, but now it is independence.

I am not surprised that the First Minister cannot answer the basic question, because, frankly, none of it makes sense. As well as supporting a second Brexit referendum, not only is Nicola Sturgeon going to demand that a second independence referendum be held next year, but she is also telling people that she is going to help form what she grandly describes as a “progressive alliance” with other parties across the United Kingdom. That is the same UK, if we follow her rightly, that she hopes to leave weeks later. I am intrigued. Can the First Minister explain how she can hope to form an alliance with the same people that she is planning to walk out on?

The First Minister:

I think that Jackson Carlaw has probably confused himself as well as the rest of the population with that question.

First, Jackson Carlaw asked me what my priority was between different referendums and I made clear to him—I will do it again—that my priority is to give the people of Scotland the opportunity to choose independence. Secondly, perhaps Jackson Carlaw might reflect on this: if, as he says, referendums are so dreadful, why did David Cameron, the Tory Prime Minister at the time, foist a Brexit referendum on Scotland? Thirdly, yes, I would want to be part of a progressive alliance to lock Tories out of government in Westminster. Why? Because Tories wreak misery and havoc. It is a year today since Theresa May presented her Brexit deal to her Cabinet, unleashing a year of chaos and division at the hands of the Tories. Welfare cuts, austerity and pushing more and more children into poverty: no right-minded person in this country would want anything other than an alternative to that Tory misery.

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

I see that we are back to our shouty, megaphone-inclusive, speech-making First Minister.

All that is complete nonsense from the First Minister, but, helpfully, her colleague and close ally David Linden clarified matters last night. He revealed that, even if the UK stayed in the EU after a second vote, the Scottish National Party would come up with yet more reasons for a grievance rematch on independence anyway. So, after indyref 2, it would be indyref 3, then indyref 4—everyone knows that we would be doing the indyref for ever. All the grand talk of alliances is just a nationalist game. Unlike some in this chamber, the Scottish Conservatives are not buying it. We will stand up for Scotland’s lifetime decision to stay in the UK. Is not the real question why she and Jeremy Corbyn are refusing to do so?

The First Minister:

The Scottish Tories have never stood up for Scotland in their puff. We have seen ample evidence of that over the three and a half years since Scotland voted to remain in the European Union—that vote was ignored and has been ignored every single day by the Conservatives. I want to put Jackson Carlaw’s mind at rest on one thing: I believe that Scotland will vote for independence when it comes to indyref 2, so he will not have to worry about any further occasions.

I cannot believe that Jackson Carlaw or anybody else is in any doubt about this, but let me be absolutely candid: I support independence for Scotland. I want Scotland to escape a position where our future is imposed on us by Boris Johnson, who is now having his strings pulled by Nigel Farage. The Tory party is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party. I do not want that to be Scotland’s future; I want the people of Scotland to have the opportunity to choose their own future, and to choose independence, so that we can build the kind of Scotland that we know we are capable of becoming.