Extraordinary! SNP slammed for spending third of IndyRef2 fund – despite vote doubts

SNP 'in the intensive care unit' over independence says Cochrane

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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is pushing to hold another Scottish independence referendum on October 19, 2023. The issue about holding such an event is currently going through the Supreme Court, with the UK Government continuing to heavily resist it taking place anytime in the near future. But despite this continued uncertainty, in newly-released accounts for last year, the SNP said by the end of 2021, it had spent £253,335 – out of £740,822 raised by its referendum appeal since 2017.

Scotland’s ruling party previously said it had spent £51,760 from the appeal by the end of 2020, meaning it spent an eye-watering £201,575 alone from the funds in 2021.

Scottish Conservative Chairman Craig Hoy MSP reacted furiously to the figures, telling Express.co.uk: “It’s extraordinary that the SNP should have spent £250,000 on an unwanted and divisive referendum without even knowing whether it would be legal, or ever happen.

“But then, as they admit themselves, every action they take is about independence.

“It’s certainly not about dealing with the priorities of the Scottish people, who are facing savage cuts and failing services on every front while the SNP ignore the real issues to concentrate on their obsession.”

The latest accounts – signed off by SNP treasurer Colin Beattie on June 30 – failed to mention what the money was spent on, only saying every action taken was in support of winning independence from the rest of the UK.

The accounts also made no mention of Ms Sturgeon’s push for IndyRef2 to take place on October 19, 2023, nor was there any reference to the UK Supreme Court case about holding up a possible referendum.

The massive spend on the independence campaign last year coincides with the SNP’s huge deficit of £749,345 after spending £1.47million fighting the Scottish parliamentary elections in May 2021. This compared to a surplus of £1nillion the year before.

Total income in the most recent accounts was revealed to be £4.5million, with total expenditure nearly £1million higher at £5.26million.

In a further blow to the SNP, the ruling party’s reserves plunged from £1.36million to just £610,765.

In the referendum appeal section of the new accounts, Mr Beattie wrote: “By 31 December 2021, a total of £740,822 had been raised through the independence related appeals.

“These donations are also included in – and have been reconciled with – the total amount for donations included in Party accounts from 2017 to 2021.

“Up until 31 December 2021 a total of £253,335 of expenditure had been applied against this income.

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“The balance remains ‘earmarked’ for independence related campaigning.

“Of course, the SNP is the party of independence and, as such, every action we take – directly or indirectly – is in support of winning independence.

He added: “However, we continue to take a very strict approach to ensuring that this income supports expenditure directly related to the campaign for independence.

“We will ensure that an amount equivalent to the sums raised from these appeals will go directly to our work to secure a referendum and win independence.”

Tory leadership and Prime Minister contenders Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have been quick to strongly dismiss any chance of IndyRef2 being allowed to take place.

Foreign Secretary Ms Truss told a Tory hustings event in Perth on Tuesday: “If I am elected as Prime Minister, I will not allow another independence referendum.”

“At the time of the 2014 referendum, it was agreed by the SNP that it was a once-in-a-generation referendum,” she said.

“I believe in politicians keeping their promises, and Nicola Sturgeon should keep her promise.

“What she should do, rather than agitating for another referendum, is dealing with the very real issues in Scotland.”

When pressed at the same hustings event whether he would rule out IndyRef2, former Chancellor Mr Sunak told the audience: “I can’t imagine the circumstances in which I would.

“We live in a union which is of course there by consent and by democracy and I accept that, but I just don’t think that anybody thinks that now or any time in the near future is remotely the time to focus on this.”

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