First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will ask Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “simply … respect democracy” and grant a second independence referendum, an MSP has said.
Newly-elected SNP MSP Neil Gray told BBC Breakfast: “There has never been as great a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament and he needs to respect that outcome.
“Clearly the health impact of the pandemic needs to be dealt with first and then we need to take a decision as a nation … about who gets to decide about the economic priorities about our recovery from the pandemic.
“Do we want the powerful decisions of that being made by Boris Johnson for us in Scotland? Or do we want to be able to take those decisions ourselves and reject the austerity-driven, Brexit-driven isolationist UK Government?”
It comes as Nicola Sturgeon said there would be “no democratic justification…to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our future.”
In a televised victory speech, the First Minister said a second independence referendum was “the will of the country”, adding: “It is a commitment made to the people by a majority of the MSPs have been elected to our national parliament.
The SNP won 64 seats following Thursday’s Holyrood election vote – one more than in 2016, but one short of an overall majority.
If the request for a second vote is rejected, Sturgeon added, “it will demonstrate conclusively that the UK is not a partnership of equals and that – astonishingly – Westminster no longer sees the UK as a voluntary union of nations.
“That in itself would be a very powerful argument for independence.”
On Sunday, Michael Gove said the UK and Scottish governments should “concentrate on the things that unite us” rather than “constitutional wrangling” over a second independence referendum.
Asked whether the Westminster government would block a second border poll, Mr Gove told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “No, what’re working on doing at the moment is working together to deal with all the challenges that we face across the whole United Kingdom.
“If we get sucked into a conversation about referenda and constitutions then we are diverting attention from the issues that are most important to the people in Scotland and across the United Kingdom.
“I hope that what people want from a Holyrood government, and also from the Westminster government, is a commitment to work together on these issues.
“So, instead of concentrating on the things that divide, let’s concentrate on the things that unite and let’s concentrate on all of us to work together to serve the people that just vote for us.”
Referencing the SNP’s desire for a second referendum, Mr Gove added it was “a slightly skewed set of priorities to imagine that that is the most important issue” in the light of the pandemic recovery.
Pressed on whether the UK Government would look to block legislation from the Scottish Parliament pushing for a second referendum, Mr Gove said: “We are not going to go there.”
Meanwhile Carol Monaghan, SNP MP for Glasgow North West, said she would like to see a bill for a second independence referendum go through the Scottish Parliament this year.
She told Times Radio: “I think we need to be drawing that up pretty quickly.
“Unfortunately, initially we need to approach Westminster in order to have that referendum first of all anyway, so we will wait and see.
“Boris Johnson has been quite clear that he’s not going to grant that, so then we need to look at do we need to go to the courts in order to seek some kind of permission to go ahead with the referendum.
“What we don’t want is a wildcat referendum, we want this to be legal and we want it to be a gold standard referendum.
“I would like to see this being drawn up by the end of the year and I would like to see a referendum taking place sometime in 2022, that’s my personal position but that’s the timescale I’d be looking for.”
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