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Blackford: Request for indyref2 powers ‘over coming days’

The SNP Westminster leader said the general election 'reaffirmed the mandate' for a referendum.

SNP: Ian Blackford with new intake of MPs. STV
SNP: Ian Blackford with new intake of MPs.

The SNP’s Westminster leader has confirmed a request to hold a second independence referendum will be made “over the coming days”.

Welcoming the party’s new intake of MPs after the general election, Ian Blackford said the result “reaffirmed the mandate the Scottish Government has” for a fresh independence vote.

The Nationalists now have 47 of the 59 seats in Scotland, with one suspended SNP candidate sitting as an independent.

But Boris Johnson says his new Conservative government – which boasts a Commons majority of 80 after trouncing Labour on December 12 – will not permit a new independence referendum.

Blackford told STV News the party had “game-planned” the likely scenario of a request for referendum powers under Section 30 of the Scotland Act being refused.

He said: “We’re here to do a job and we’re here to demand that we get what we stood on, which is the right for Scotland to have a referendum on its future.

“The Scottish Government has a mandate for an independence referendum – Boris Johnson better listen to that mandate.

“We are not going to go away and the call for that independence referendum is not going away.

“We have a responsibility to protect Scotland from being taken out of Europe against its will and we’re determined to do that.”

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On Section 30 powers, the SNP Westminster leader added: “The request will go in over the coming days.

“Of course, we have game-planned this. We have worked out a strategy for this.

“We have an irrefutable case that we have a mandate – it’s about respecting democracy.

“Is Boris Johnson really going to say that he is going to ignore the will of the people of Scotland that have voted in such large numbers for the SNP?”

Addressing the media outside Westminster, in front of his 46 SNP colleagues, Blackford thanked politicians from other parties for their “generosity of spirit” in accepting the right to an independence vote in Scotland.

It comes after a number of high-profile figures in Scottish Labour, including health spokeswoman Monica Lennon, MSP Neil Findlay and leading councillor Alison Evison have spoken favourably about having a second referendum.

Hailing the SNP’s general election victory in Scotland – its second best ever result at Westminster after 2015 – Blackford said: “It was a very clear message that we wanted to make sure we protected Scotland’s interests.

“It was about reaffirming the mandate the Scottish Government has for a referendum on independence, giving us a way out from Brexit.”

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He continued: “We have won 80% of the seats in Scotland.

“The Tories fought on one simple message: say no to indyref2.

“Well, Boris, you got your answer. You lost more than half your MPs. You trail 20 points behind the Scottish National Party.

“Respect democracy, respect the Scottish people and recognise that we should have that power to determine the timing of our referendum.”

The SNP MP said the Scottish Government “won that right (to a referendum) in 2016”, when the party entered into minority government saying it could hold a referendum if Brexit took place.

He also vowed that the Nationalists would be “the effective opposition in Westminster over the coming period”.

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