Nicola Sturgeon will ask the UK Government to agree to another Scottish independence referendum “in the spirit of co-operation”.
Scotland’s First Minister will tell SNP members that “democracy must – and will – prevail” to allow another vote on Scottish independence.
Sturgeon, who is due to deliver the closing speech of the SNP conference shortly before midday, is expected to say that she hopes to adopt an approach of “co-operation not confrontation” in her attempts to secure a second referendum.
The SNP leader has called for another referendum by the end of 2023 when the coronavirus pandemic is over, although the UK Government remains opposed to another vote.
When asked about allowing a referendum to take place during a Westminster Liaison Committee in March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded: “When you ask people to vote on a highly controversial and divisive issue, an issue that breaks up family relationships, that is extremely toxic and divisive, and you tell them this is going to happen only once in a generation, I think you should stick to it.”
Sturgeon is expected to tell the virtual conference: “My approach to government and to politics will be, as far as possible, co-operation not confrontation.
“The experience of the pandemic and the challenges we face as a result reinforces my view that this is the right approach.
“So it is in that spirit of co-operation that I hope the Scottish and UK governments can reach agreement – as we did in 2014 – to allow the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland to be heard and respected.
“But, this much is clear: democracy must – and will – prevail.”
She will add: “The United Kingdom is after all a voluntary union of nations.
“Until recently no-one seriously challenged the right of the people in Scotland to choose whether or not they wished to become independent.
“Frankly it is not up to a Westminster government which has just six MPs in Scotland to decide our future without the consent of the people who live here.
“As an independent country, co-operation between Scotland and our friends across the rest of the UK will continue, but it will be on a better basis: Scotland will be an equal partner.”
During an interview with Sky News on Sunday, it was suggested to Sturgeon that rather than being concerned about Covid-19, she was waiting until it was politically advantageous.
But she said that any politician would “factor those kind of judgments into those decisions”, and added: “I am very confident that when this question is next to put people in Scotland will vote yes.”
She added: “My primary consideration is to do what’s right for the country, when is it right.”
The SNP conference also backed the Scottish Government plans for the timing of another independence referendum at the “earliest” possible moment after the Covid crisis.
Party members endorsed that timescale, backing a motion by 535 votes to 10, that sets out plans for another vote “as soon as it is safe to hold a proper, detailed, serious national debate on independence”.
It states that the date should be determined by “data-driven criteria” about when the public health crisis is over.
Responding to Sturgeon’s trailed remarks, chief executive of the Scotland in Union campaign group, Pamela Nash, said: “This is Groundhog Day yet again at SNP conference, with nationalist politicians only interested in talking about the constitution.
“The First Minister has clearly run out of ideas.
“If Nicola Sturgeon was serious about believing in co-operation, she would focus on making devolution work and using Holyrood’s powers to build a recovery for everyone.
“Instead, she is blindsided by her obsession with breaking up our country.
“Scotland deserves better than a government that prioritises division ahead of devolution.”
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