Former SNP leader Alex Salmond said negotiations over Scottish independence should start in “week one” of the next Holyrood term if there is a pro-independence “supermajority”. Mr Salmond claimed the Government would ignore an SNP victory in the election on May 6 but predicted that its resistance would “crumble” if enough pro-independence MSPs were returned. He was speaking at the campaign launch of his new Alba Party.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said only a “legal and legitimate” referendum could lead to Scottish independence and has always ruled out a Catalan-style plebiscite.
However, Mr Salmond insisted the SNP should not “pigeonhole” itself into this position, and that a range of tactics including court action or peaceful protest could be used instead.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has continuously refused to give his backing to a new referendum, saying the vote held in 2014 had settled the issue for a generation.
He has also argued that the country’s focus should be on recovering from the Covid pandemic rather than the constitution.
Because of the Prime Minister’s position, in an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Mar Aguilera Vaqués, professor of constitutional law at the University of Barcelona, claimed nationalists in Scotland might see their cause end up like the Catalan independence movement.
Catalonia is one of Spain’s wealthiest and most productive regions and has a distinct history dating back almost 1,000 years.
Its desire for independence stretches back decades.
Three years since its government’s failed attempt to unilaterally declare independence, Catalonia has somewhat disappeared from international headlines.
However, while its institutions are unlikely to pose any serious new threats to Spain’s stability, the political situation in the autonomous region is far from normalised.
Several pro-independence politicians are currently in jail or in exile, violent protests regularly break out in the streets, and the ‘war of flags’ continues on the balconies of Catalonia’s towns and cities.
Ms Aguilera Vaqués praised former Prime Minister David Cameron for allowing Mr Salmond to hold a referendum on independence in 2014.
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“‘Is it fair you can only vote once in a generation?’
“Well… it depends on the rules agreed.
“And if the rules agreed were that, Scotland will end up in a situation similar to the one in Catalonia, for sure.”
The five leaders of Scotland’s larger political parties took part in their first televised debate of the 2021 Holyrood election campaign last week.
After initially saying a referendum would only be held when the “coronavirus crisis has passed”, Ms Sturgeon was forced to admit she wants to see a second constitutional vote within the first half of the next parliamentary term.
Her remarks were immediately criticised by opposition leaders, who said the government’s focus should be on tackling child poverty, the educational attainment gap and the remobilisation of the NHS and cancer services in particular.
Support for Scottish independence has been gradually rising during the past five years, due to Ms Sturgeon’s high popularity and instability in Westminster, especially over Brexit.