SNP ridiculed after Salmond said London 2012 would be last Olympics for Team GB

Nicola Sturgeon slammed by host for 'denying biology'

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other senior Scottish nationalists have been criticised for failing to publicly support Team GB’s Olympians. While politicians from across the political spectrum have sent messages of encouragement to Britain’s competitors on social media, Ms Surgeon and other senior figures in her party have been accused of a “deafening silence”. An analysis of Twitter accounts by The Telegraph on Tuesday showed that of Ms Sturgeon’s 10-person Scottish cabinet, none had personally congratulated any Team GB athlete and just one had acknowledged the Tokyo games since it started on Friday.

Ian Murray, the Shadow Scottish Secretary, said: “The whole country is getting behind Team GB and our Olympians who have had such a fantastic start to the Games, but the silence from senior SNP politicians is deafening – even when Scottish GB athletes are making us all proud.

“The ethos of the Olympics – unity and working together as a team – goes against everything the SNP stands for, so it’s perhaps no surprise they can’t bring themselves to get behind our amazing athletes.”

The SNP’s behaviour should not come as a surprise, though.

In July 2012, former Scottish leader Alex Salmond had pledged to make the London 2012 Olympics the last games featuring a Team GB with the best athletes from all the Home Nations.

The then-First Minister confirmed he intended to field a separate Scottish team at the Rio Games in 2016, as he thought Scotland would have left the United Kingdom by then.

But opposition parties warned his comments misjudged the national mood barely a week before the London Games opened, and urged him to get behind Team GB instead of predicting its swansong.

Mr Salmond used the 2008 games in Beijing to call for the creation of a separate Scottish team before independence, even as Team GB was winning a record medal haul.

Sir Chris Hoy, Scotland’s greatest Olympian and the winner of three cycling golds in Beijing, said at the time there were not the necessary training facilities north of the Border.

Lord Coe, the London 2012 chief, also poured scorn on the idea by highlighting the pride he and his Scottish roommate, Allan Wells, felt at winning gold for Britain in Moscow in 1980.

However, earlier that year, Mr Salmond had published a timetable for an independence referendum.

Mr Salmond confirmed it meant London 2012 would have been the final time Scottish athletes competed as part of the UK, signalling the end of Team GB.

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He told a press conference in Edinburgh: “An independent country would compete as an independent nation at the Olympics.

“Of course, before then as part of the UK or not, Scotland will be competing as an independent competitor nation in the Commonwealth Games.”

Patricia Ferguson, a former Labour MSP, said: “If he thinks attacking Team GB this is going to make separation less unpopular, he is deluded.

“Playing political games with Scotland’s elite athletes just days before the Olympic Games is a big mistake and one he will regret.”

Jackson Carlaw, the former Scottish Tory deputy leader, added: “Scottish athletes will make a huge contribution to Team GB in London just as I am sure they will again in Rio in 2016.

“Poor Alex should worry more about the race to succeed him which will surely follow his failed referendum bid.”

The referendum on Scottish independence was held in September 2014 and saw Scotland vote to remain part of the UK, with 55 percent voting against the proposal for Scotland to become an independent country and 45 percent voting in favour.

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After winning the Holyrood election in Mary, Ms Sturgeon told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that a second independence referendum is “a matter of when – not if”.

During a phone call with Mr Johnson, the First Minister pledged to work with the UK Government on steering the country through the Covid pandemic towards recovery.

The SNP said the leaders also agreed on the importance of both governments working together “closely and constructively” to make the forthcoming UN climate conference in Glasgow a success.

But a party spokeswoman added: “The FM also re-iterated her intention to ensure that the people of Scotland can choose our own future when the crisis is over, and made clear that the question of a referendum is now a matter of when – not if.”

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