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General Election (Private Conversations)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 11th December 2019.

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Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

1. At the last general election, Nicola Sturgeon revealed that the Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, had told her in a private conversation that she wanted to drop Labour’s opposition to a second independence referendum. On the eve of this election, would she like to share any private conversations that she is having with Jeremy Corbyn?

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

I am sorry—I did not hear. Was that a “no” or a “none”?

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

I am not sure that that is credible, because I thought that the First Minister said in the chamber a few weeks ago that she had had conversations with Jeremy Corbyn.

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

Last night, Nicola Sturgeon said that she did not think that Labour’s spending plans are credible, yet still she is happy to hand Mr Corbyn the nation’s credit card, all because he will give her what she really craves—that second independence referendum. However, in a recent BBC “Breakfast” interview, the First Minister warned that, if she did not get the referendum that she is demanding, “all options” would be open. She even declined to rule out legal action. Will the First Minister clarify what she meant by “all options”? Seriously, would she sue her way to indyref2?

The First Minister:

There is an easy solution to all the worries that Jackson Carlaw clearly has, and it is this: the Tories could just respect the will of the Scottish people and respect how the Scottish people vote. If the Scottish National Party wins the election tomorrow, perhaps that is the best advice for Jackson Carlaw.

However, let me tell

Jackson Carlaw what my priority is tomorrow. It is to make sure that I do everything that I can to ensure that we do not wake up on Friday morning to a Boris Johnson Government, because a Tory Government will mean more cuts to our public services, rising child poverty and a hard Brexit. That is what a Tory Government will mean for Scotland, and the way to stop that happening is to vote SNP. The SNP is the main challenger to the Tories in Scotland, so if we want not to be waking up to Boris Johnson on Friday, vote SNP for a better, brighter future for Scotland.

The Presiding Officer:

Hang on one second, Mr Carlaw. I encourage members not to indulge in direct electioneering such as encouraging—[

Interruption

.] No, no—I recognise that it is the day before the general election, and I recognise the topics that are going to be discussed. I am absolutely happy with that, but would members mind not ending questions or answers with calls to vote for one party or another? Thank you.

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

Yes. Thank you, Presiding Officer.

The First Minister has never respected the settled will of the people since the question on independence was put in 2014 so, to borrow the phrase that ministers are so fond of, it is a bit rich of her to start talking about others respecting election results, when she has refused to accept the result of any referendum to date.

After last night’s leaders’ debate, I had a message from a viewer, Kenny from Ayrshire, who said:

Nicola Sturgeon says she wants me to make my voice heard, but what’s the point when she just ignores everything I have to say because it doesn’t suit her. I voted No to independence and so did most people in Scotland, but she just won’t leave it alone. Why is it she only listens to some folk but not others?”

Why is that? Why does the First Minister have a habit of listening only to those people who agree with her? Why do the voices of the more than 2 million Scots who voted no in 2014 not count with her?

The First Minister:

I am genuinely surprised that Jackson Carlaw wants to raise the issue of the BBC leaders’ debate last night, because anybody who watched it would have seen him getting a roasting from an audience that was scunnered and disgusted by Tory austerity driving people into poverty.

Let me talk about the settled will of the Scottish people—the 62 per cent who voted to remain in the European Union. Jackson Carlaw used to believe in and argue for remaining in the European Union, as well, until, of course, he got his instructions from Boris Johnson. He is now a born-again Brexiteer.

The difference between me and Jackson Carlaw is that he thinks that it is okay for Boris Johnson to dictate Scotland’s future to the people of Scotland, whereas I think that it is for the people of Scotland to choose our future. The fact that the Tories do not want the people of Scotland to have that choice shows that they are running scared of the verdict of the Scottish people. I stand for choice. On Friday morning, we can wake up to the future of this country being in the hands of the Scottish people and not in the hands of Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party.

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

The people of Scotland did choose. Nicola Sturgeon’s “Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland”, which she arranged to send to every household that requested it, said in writing that the vote was

“a once in a generation” vote. She signed up to that commitment with her predecessor in the Edinburgh agreement. She has never respected or honoured the result of the referendum; she has simply ignored the majority and kept the issue in place, because that is all that she is interested in doing.

Let us cut to the chase. Is it not the case that people face a very stark choice tomorrow? They can support the SNP and, come Friday, see the First Minister hijacking every vote that was cast on Thursday as a mandate for a second independence referendum, which would take us back to more division and extended chaos next year, or they can choose a different option. They can choose the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party to stop indyref2 and let the country move on.

The First Minister:

In 2014, people in Scotland voted no to independence because they were told that that was the way to protect Scotland’s membership of the European Union. Here we are, five years later, with Jackson Carlaw and the Tories trying to drag Scotland out of the EU against our will. In a democracy—I know that the Tories are not keen on democracy—people have the right to change their mind when circumstances change.

I agree with Jackson Carlaw that people face a stark choice tomorrow. The election is the most important of our lifetimes. Down one path, there is a future dictated to us by Boris Johnson and the Tories. We would be ripped out of Europe, child poverty would rise and there would be more cuts and austerity for our public services. Alternatively, the people of Scotland can vote SNP. A vote for the SNP is a vote to lock Boris Johnson out of Downing Street, to escape the mess of the Tory Brexit, and to put Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands. That is the better, brighter option that I hope that people across Scotland will choose tomorrow.

The Presiding Officer:

I urge members not to use the words “vote” or “choose”.