Black: 'Scotland has to do more to highlight independence benefits'

The SNP's new deputy Westminster leader said the argument for leaving the UK 'must be a purpose, not a hobby'.

Mhairi Black says Scotland has to do more to highlight independence benefits Jane Barlow via PA Media

The SNP’s new deputy Westminster leader has said her party must do more to explain why they want Scotland to be independent.

Mhairi Black was elected alongside new leader Stephen Flynn earlier this month after long-time incumbent Ian Blackford stepped down.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Black said it was only after hearing Flynn’s vision for the SNP group in the Commons that she considered running to be his deputy.

The MPs, she said, have three key goals; holding the UK Government to account, representing their constituents and explaining to Scots why independence would be positive for the country.

“They know we support independence rather than why. We need to do more to explain it’s not just some random hobby, it’s for a purpose,” she told the newspaper.

The Scottish Government is currently in the process of publishing a series of papers designed to explain the policies of an independent Scotland, with three already having been produced.

Black’s comments come as the sixth consecutive poll found support for leaving the UK in the majority, as a sustained bounce for the Yes cause continues following the Supreme Court ruling that Holyrood is not able to legislate for a referendum on independence.

A Panelbase survey for the Sunday Times, of 1,004 Scots, found 52% support for independence among decided voters.

On why she decided to run for deputy, Black said: “I wasn’t ever really planning on standing for deputy, but it came about after a good few conversations.

“It just sounded like something really positive and if I could play a role in it, I’d be humbled to do so.

“It was more when Stephen was talking to me about his vision for how things could look, how they could be, I just thought, ‘That sounds really refreshing’.

“I know that what Stephen is basically hoping for is refocusing why we’re all there, to build on the work that has been done not just by Ian Blackford, but Angus Robertson before him.”

She also praised the new leader, saying: “I am really excited. I think he’s incredibly driven, he’s energised, and really, really focused.

“I believe him when he says ‘this is what I want to do’.

“He’s taken account of everyone’s views, which to me is leadership material when you are able to bring people with you.”

Responding to the polling news on Sunday, the SNP’s deputy leader Keith Brown said there was a “growing strength of feeling” in the country for independence.

“The people of Scotland have demonstrated their support for a referendum, having delivered the largest-ever majority of pro-independence MSPs in the 2021 Holyrood election,” he added.

“With each new poll released the position of the Westminster establishment parties becomes even more untenable – Scots must and will be given the opportunity to decide their future.”

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