SNP SHAMED: ‘Divisive’ new independence plot condemned by Tories – ‘Absolute disgrace!’

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And Mr Lockhart said instead of talking about ways to tear Scotland out of the UK, Nicola Sturgeon’s party should instead be concentrating on its recovery. Mr Lockhart, Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, Europe and External Affairs, was speaking after The National newspaper revealed the wording of a Plan B route to independence.

The motion, which was drawn up by SNP MP Angus MacNeil and SNP councillor Chris McEleny, will be debated by the SNP conference next month.

If approved, it would instruct the Scottish Government to explore whether it could legally hold an independence referendum with the permission of Westminster.

If such a move was not considered viable, the party’s manifesto for next year’s Holyrood elections would include a commitment to take a pro-independence majority of seats, in the absence of a referendum, as a mandate to begin independence negotiations with the UK Government.

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It’s an absolute disgrace that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and the SNP keep talking up another divisive referendum

Dean Lockhart

However, Mr Lockhart, a member of the Scottish Parliament for the Mid Scotland and Fife, was unimpressed.

He told “It’s an absolute disgrace that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and the SNP keep talking up another divisive referendum.

“We need to be fully focused on recovering from the damage COVID-19 has caused but the SNP’s priority, as always, is independence.”

The motion to be presented to the SNP’s conference states: “Conference calls on the Scottish Government to establish the legal competence of the Scottish Parliament holding a referendum on Scottish independence without the approval of the UK Parliament.

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“Conference instructs that if a referendum on Scotland’s future is denied by the UK Government and the competence to hold a consultative referendum is not established, then the manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary elections shall state that the election of a pro-independence majority of seats, in the absence of a referendum, shall be a mandate from the people of Scotland to commence independence negotiations with the UK Government.”

Current rules state that in order for a referendum to be held, the UK must grant what is known as a Section 30 order to the Scottish government allowing it to pass laws normally reserved for Westminster, as happened in 2014 when then-leaders David Cameron and Alex Salmond signed the “Edinburgh Agreement”.

But in December Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Mrs Sturgeon he remains opposed to a second referendum and will not be granting such an order.

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Mr MacNeil said the idea of Mr Johnson changing his mind was unrealistic, adding that the “Section 30/Plan A for a Scottish independence referendum is well and truly dead”.

He added: “People need hope now, this motion gives us hope, and it establishes a legitimate route to independence.

“That is the important bit, establishing legitimacy.

“The 2021 Election will be a polling opportunity to establish the legitimacy for independence, I would encourage people to vote for it.”

Speaking yesterday, pro-Union campaigner Kevin Hague, chairman of the These Islands think tank, pointed out nothing would happen without the compliance of Westminster.

He said of Mr MacNeil: “He can say that is what it is but all they can do is ask for a Section 30 order, which is what they can do anyway.

“The question has always been when will the SNP ask for it and Sturgeon won’t ask for it until she thinks she can win it, and she knows she can’t win it while we are still battling with COVID-19.

“So frankly anything else is just sabre-rattling to keep the troops happy.

“Having a mandate to ask for something doesn’t make any difference to Westminster’s ability to say no.

“If you look at what it is saying, it says this will be a mandate for us to ask.

“Well they can ask tomorrow, there’s nothing stopping them, but that’s not the issue.” has contacted the SNP and Mr MacNeil for a response to Mr Lockhart’s comments.

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