SNP backlash as minister refuses THREE TIMES to answer about Indyref2 legal advice

Nicola Sturgeon blasted for endless quest for independence

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This comes as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reaffirmed her commitment to seeking another referendum on Scottish independence in 2023. The previous referendum on independence from the rest of the UK in 2014 showed 55 percent of Scots were in favour of remaining part of the union.

Though described at the time as a “once in a generation” matter, Ms Sturgeon has said Brexit changed the terms of the vote, which should be repeated.

SNP constitution secretary Angus Robertson refused to indicate one way or another whether the party pushing for independence had taken on board legal advice on IndyRef2.

Mr Robertson told MSPs that to answer the question would break with “convention”, and that he would “not depart from that tradition”.

He said: “It’s a long-established convention of this and previous governments that legal advice is not disclosed other than in exceptional circumstances.

“This reflects the public interest in the provision of free and frank legal advice, maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients.”

He later said: “I’m not going to depart from that tradition today.”

Mr Robertson was pressed on the subject by Willie Rennie, former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, followed by Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston.

Dissatisfied with the response given by Mr Robertson, the Tory MSP for the Highlands and Islands denounced Mr Robertson on Twitter.

He posted: “Despite being asked three times, the Scottish Government refuse to even say whether they’ve taken legal advice over whether their #indyref2 plans are legal.

“They know but they don’t want you to know.

“It’s not in the ‘public interest’, apparently.”

The SNP’s commitment to a 2023 independence referendum was a staple of their election manifesto for Holyrood seats last year. 

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But Boris Johnson has refused to allow Holyrood the ability to hold a second independence referendum, complicating the controversial pledge.

However, the First Minister has said she will attempt to bypass Westminster’s approval, attempting to navigate the Referendum Bill through without the UK Government’s blessing.

Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster lead, had suggested the plans to hold the referendum next year could be put on hold, depending on how the Russian invasion of Ukraine unfolds.

But Ms Sturgeon appeared to play down these questions over a delay in an interview with LBC, adding: “My plans and my thinking hasn’t changed.

“We, right now, should be reminded, above all else, how lucky we are to live in a free democracy where we can put forward our case for political constitutional change, argue that case passionately, whatever our views on that might be, and trust people to decide.”

At the beginning of 2020, Mr Johnson formally rejected the SNP’s call for a second referendum.

Writing to Ms Sturgeon, the Prime Minister said another vote would “continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade”.

He added, referring to former First Minister Alex Salmond’s promise the 2014 vote was “once in a generation”: “The UK Government will continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the promise that you made to them.

“For that reason, I cannot agree to any request for a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums.”

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