No chance of 2023 referendum! Nicola Sturgeon slapped down by Scottish nationalists

SNP MP on how Ukraine crisis shows need for independence

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The First Minister has promised a second referendum on Scottish Independence following her May 2021 Holyrood election win. In the SNP’s manifesto, the party said they would hold a referendum when the coronavirus pandemic had subsided, with some reporting it would be held in 2023.

Kenny MacAskill, deputy leader of the Alba Party and MP for East Lothian, has now rubbished Ms Sturgeon’s chances of holding IndyRef2 in 2023.

He said ahead of the Alba Party conference at Hampden: “The Scottish Government under Nicola Sturgeon are not going to deliver a referendum.

“There’s no possibility of a referendum in 2023 given the timescale now. What we have to do is to have a convention after May’s elections.”

Mr MacAskill then repeated criticism of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and reaffirmed support for independence, saying: ”Scotland’s elected representatives have to come together in a convention, we cannot go on like this, people aren’t going to be able to cope with the cost of living crisis or with their energy bills rising.

“Scotland has to get out of this madcap United Kingdom let by a total charlatan, it’s time for Scotland’s elected representatives to come together to say no more.”

It comes after Mr Salmond fired an attack at Ms Sturgeon’s Government, saying the SNP is “becoming incompetent and accident-prone”.

The Alba founder said at his party conference: “We have moved to a position where even the most ardent supporters of independence know that the SNP/Green administration is becoming incompetent and accident-prone.”

He also added: “One thing I thought I would never see, was a BBC presenter hounding a Scottish First Minister about when she would hold an independence referendum.

“And yet, that is exactly what happened with Nicola Sturgeon and Sophie Raworth earlier this year.

“Painfully – and for any real independence supporter it was painful- the BBC’s Sophie Raworth went through the many occasions since 2014 when the SNP have promised an independence referendum and failed to deliver.

“There have been five national elections in Scotland since the first independence referendum. In each of them, the parties of independence have won a majority of seats.

“In last year’s Scottish election it was both a majority of seats and, thanks to Alba’s small contribution, a majority of votes as well.

“And in all that time, with all these mandates, nothing has happened – there has been absolutely nout doing. Of course, there is always a reason. Brexit, pandemic, war in Europe – all mighty and important things.

“But none of these have been allowed to stop the democratic test of elections. Nor should they have.

“Why then should they stop the democratic imperative of a referendum, or another electoral test, on Scottish independence.”

On March 20 Kevin Pringle, former SNP communications chief, said an independence referendum is “unlikely” in 2023.

Writing for the Sunday Times, the former special adviser to Mr Salmond said: “It is unwise to make any definite predictions in such volatile times, but it seems reasonable to say out loud that an independence referendum is unlikely to take place by the end of next year, given the hurdles to be overcome and extensive preparations required.

“I don’t think the war in Ukraine has changed this, in the sense that it was no more likely before the Russian invasion and all the destruction and instability being wreaked.”

“A referendum is a means to an end, nothing more.

“If the Scottish Government pursues it within a tight 2023 timescale that people are uncomfortable with, even assuming it doesn’t happen then, the task of building support for independence itself may be undermined.”

Mr Pringle then added that given the current parliamentary term is not due to end until 2026, there was “time enough” for pro-independence MSPs to “get it right”.

A poll by Savanta ComRes published on March 18 found 59 percent of Scots believed discussions about the timing of a second referendum should be put on hold due to the Russian war on Ukraine, including 43 percent of SNP voters.

Another 52 percent felt that the cost-of-living crisis also justifies a halt. Overall, 49 percent said they would vote No were another independence referendum to be held now, up three points since the last Sevanta ComRes poll in January.

Support for Yes had dropped by two points to 44 percent.

The Savanta ComRes poll interviewed 1,008 Scottish adults aged 16 or over between March 10 and 16

Joyce McMillan, a theatre critic, said for the Scotsman “it often seems almost impossible to raise the question of further disruptive change, amid the current maelstrom of global crises”.

Chris Deerin, writing for the New Statesman, said the SNP has “missed its chance for Scottish independence”.

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