Blackford: PM must ‘respect the will’ of Scots over indyref2

SNP Westminster leader issued the challenge to Boris Johnson in the wake of his party’s victory in the Holyrood elections.

Blackford: PM must ‘respect the will’ of Scots over indyref2 STV News

Boris Johnson has been told he must “respect the will of the Scottish people” and allow a second independence referendum.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford issued the challenge to the Prime Minister in the wake of his party’s victory in the Holyrood elections.

The SNP, led by Nicola Sturgeon, won a record-breaking fourth term in government in Scotland, and increased their tally of MSPs to 64.

And although Sturgeon’s party failed to win an overall majority, the eight Green MSPs who were elected mean that 72 of the 129 members support independence.

The SNP leader has already told Johnson that the second independence referendum is now a matter of “when not if”.

But Downing Street has refused to be drawn on issues relating to Scotland’s future, insisting the focus must be on tackling coronavirus

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Throughout the recent elections all party leaders across the UK said Covid recovery should be our shared priority and that’s what the UK Government is going to be focusing on.”

However, Blackford said the Scottish election result meant there was now a “cast iron mandate for a post pandemic independence referendum”.

Sturgeon has always stated a second vote on Scotland’s place in the UK would not take place until the immediate health crisis of coronavirus has passed.

With the Tories doing well in local English elections, including winning the Westminster constituency of Hartlepool in a byelection, Blackford argued that “England and Scotland are on different political paths”.

He added: “We have two governments and Parliaments with different priorities.”

Speaking ahead of the Queen’s Speech, the SNP MP insisted: “Boris Johnson must respect the will of the Scottish people – who voted overwhelmingly to re-elect the SNP with a cast-iron mandate for a post-pandemic independence referendum.”

Blackford continued: “When it comes to recovery, Scotland voted for a parliament that will back transformative policies to create a fairer society but instead the Tories are repeating the same damaging mistakes of the last economic crisis, by imposing austerity cuts, a hard Brexit, a public sector pay freeze and slashing Universal Credit – pushing millions of people into poverty.

“People in Scotland roundly rejected the Tories and voted for a strong, fair, and equal recovery – instead of the long-term damage of Tory cuts, Brexit and power grabs.

“If we are to deliver an investment-led recovery and the long-term fundamental changes needed to tackle inequality and build a fairer society, Scotland needs the full powers of an independent country.

“Once this crisis is over there will be a referendum, so that Scotland’s future is in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s. The Tories must not stand in the way of democracy.”

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