Raab insists it's 'not the right time' for an independence referendum

Ian Blackford said Scotland has already 'paid the price' for not being independent.

Dominic Raab insists it’s ‘not the right time’ for an independence referendum UK Parliament TV
The SNP's Westminster leader challenge the deputy prime minister in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Dominic Raab insists it is “not the right time” for another Scottish independence referendum due to the challenges facing the United Kingdom.

The deputy prime minister, standing in at PMQs for Boris Johnson who is at the NATO leaders’ summit in Spain, claimed that people in Scotland want their governments at Holyrood and Westminster to work together to tackle the issues facing them in their everyday lives.

However, the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford insisted that the Conservatives do not have the right to “block” Scottish democracy.

It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday set out a route map towards a referendum next year.

Raising the issue in the Commons, Blackford challenged Raab on whether the UK Government would be able to make a positive case for the union.

“Scotland’s First Minister has set the date and started the campaign,” Blackford told MPs.

“Our nation will have its independence referendum on October 19, 2023.

“The reality is Scotland has already paid the price for not being independent.

“Westminster governments we did not vote for imposing policies we don’t support, breaking international law, dragging Scotland through a damaging Brexit we didn’t vote for, and delivering deep austerity cuts.

“Contrast that with our European neighbours who have greater income equality, lower poverty rates and higher productivity. Why not Scotland?”

Blackford concluded: “In the weeks and months ahead, we will make the positive case for independence.

“Will the opposition, if they can, make the case for continued Westminster rule?”

Dominic Raab deputised for Boris Johnson at PMQs.UK Parliament TV]
Dominic Raab deputised for Boris Johnson at PMQs.

The deputy prime minister rejected the suggestion that a vote should take place next year.

“It’s not the right time for another referendum given the challenges that we face as one United Kingdom,” he responded.

“He referred to some of the challenges in Scotland, but I think actually the people of Scotland want their two governments to work together and we are keen, willing, enthusiastic to do so.”

Blackford argued that Scottish democracy will “not be a prisoner” to any UK prime minister.

“There is no case for the union as we’ve just heard from the deputy prime minister,” he said.

“The harsh reality is that the Tories might fear democratic debate, but they don’t have the right to block Scottish democracy.

“As the late Canon Kenyon Wright said, ‘what if the other voice we all know so well responds by saying we say no, we are the state? His answer, well we say yes and we are the people’.”

He continued: “Just last year, the member for Moray, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives no less, put it in his own words – ‘a vote for the Scottish National Party is another vote for an independence referendum’

“Well, you won’t often hear me say this, but I agree with him and so do the Scottish people.

“Scottish democracy will not be a prisoner of any prime minister in this place.

“So why is the UK Government scared of democracy? Or is it simply that they have run out of ideas to defend the failing Westminster system?”

Raab criticised the SNP’s record in government in Edinburgh.

The deputy prime minister responded: “I think he’s rather airbrushing history with that long soliloquy.

“He mentions the problems that Scotland faces – huge tax burden imposed by the SNP.

“Scotland’s record on science and maths under the international PISA rankings have dropped below England and Wales.

“And the SNP have presided over the worst drug death rate in Europe, the highest since records began.

“I think the people of Scotland expect their government in Holyrood and in Westminster work together to tackle the issues facing them in their day-to-day lives.”

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