Nicola Sturgeon and Douglas Ross clash in election debate
This week, Ms Sturgeon reiterated her desire to hold an independence vote within the next two years if her party wins a majority in Holyrood, in what some opposition leaders have called a “reckless” plan for the country. With Scotland still battling the coronavirus, leader of the Scottish Tories, Douglas Ross has criticised the First Minister for not focusing on restoring Scotland’s recovery. Despite the measures put in place to support the Scottish economy by the UK Government, Mr Ross has warned pushing for independence jeopardises the country’s economic growth going forward.
Mr Ross said: “This is the clearest sign yet that the SNP will put another referendum before Scotland’s recovery.
“Nicola Sturgeon talks of Alex Salmond being a betting man but she’s willing to gamble Scotland’s recovery on a reckless plan to break up the country.
“The Institute for Fiscal Studies demonstrated this week that higher levels of public spending in Scotland is possible because we’re part of the United Kingdom.
“The UK furlough scheme is still protecting Scottish jobs and people are still getting Covid jags in their arms – but Nicola Sturgeon thinks risking all of that is what’s best for Scotland?
Nicola Sturgeon was criticised for her plan
Nicola Sturgeon is expected to win a majority
“The SNP’s obsession with independence is clouding her judgement.
“The last thing Scotland needs is more uncertainty and a new constitutional crisis on top of the health and economic crisis we’re facing.”
This week, Ms Sturgeon revealed the SNP will push for an independence referendum in the first two years of the party’s term if they win a majority in May.
Despite the creation of the Alba party under former First Minister, Alex Salmond, Mr Ross claimed the Scottish Tories are the only party capable of stopping the SNP’s desire to break up the UK.
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Nicola Sturgeon was criticised by Douglas Ross
Mr Ross added: “Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed her plans are reckless but she still won’t say exactly how reckless.
“The SNP haven’t ruled out a 2021 referendum or working with Alex Salmond’s party if they get an independent super-majority.
“Only the Scottish Conservatives have the strength to stop an SNP majority and stop their push for another divisive referendum while Scotland is still recovering from the Covid pandemic.”
This week, Ms Sturgeon claimed Scotland must prepare for independence and use that to guide the country’s recovery going forward.
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Nicola Sturgeon is expected to win a majority
Within the Scottish Parliament, the SNP holds 61 seats but is expected to gain even more in May’s local election.
Armed with any possible majority, Ms Sturgeon will push for an independence referendum despite Boris Johnson rejecting her requests to do so.
The First Minister added: “What I am saying is that if we are out of the Covid crisis, then I would want to see an independence referendum be in the first half of this parliament because as we recover from Covid, it’s really important that we have the powers and the decision making here in Scotland to ensure that we have the kind of recovery, a majority want.”
Ms Sturgeon’s push for an independence referendum in the next two years comes as the Institute of Fiscal Studies revealed the Scottish Government’s public spending per person is 30 percent higher than England’s.
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This is due to additional funds from the UK Treasury within the Barnett formula which allocates funding to the four devolved administrations.
The report from the institute also revealed Scotland will receive more funding per person to tackle the coronavirus pandemic than what is being spent in England.
Commenting on Ms Sturgeon’s plan, leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, Alistair Carmicheal said: “Nicola Sturgeon has once again made it very clear that her only priority this election is another independence referendum.
“This is not what Scotland needs.
Nicola Sturgeon has been criticised for prioritising independence
“Scotland needs a needle-sharp focus on green and secure jobs, a plan to help education bounce back and supporting the NHS and mental health.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats want to put recovery first, we want to make sure Scotland can flourish again after the pandemic and that everyone will be able to thrive.
“This is what every government should do, put the wellbeing of the nation and citizens first, clearly Nicola Sturgeon does not think so.”