Independence referendum ‘the will of the country’, Sturgeon claims

The First Minister said Westminster would prove the UK was not a ‘partnership of equals’ if it blocked another referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

Another Scottish independence referendum is the “will of the country”, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said in a victory speech.

The SNP and Scottish Greens have won a total of 68 seats in Holyrood, with more gains expected as further regional list results are announced.

Speaking on Saturday, the First Minister said her first focus would be on the coronavirus pandemic, but that the people of Scotland should be able to decide on the constitutional question “when the time is right”.

An independence referendum was pledged in the manifesto of both the SNP and the Scottish Greens, who have already picked up an extra seat on the Central Scotland list.

The First Minister said: “It is a commitment made to the people by a majority of the MSPs have been elected to our national parliament.

“It is the will of the country.

“Given that outcome, there is simply no democratic justification whatsoever for Boris Johnson or anyone else seeking to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our future.

If the request is rejected, Ms Sturgeon said, “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”.

She added: “That in itself would be a very powerful argument for independence.”

Nicola Sturgeon
The First Minister was speaking after a pro-independence majority was confirmed (Jane Barlow/PA)

She also appealed to independence supporters, telling them they must “patiently persuade our fellow citizens” of the case for an independent Scotland.

The win by the SNP, the fourth consecutive victory for the party, saw more votes cast for them in local constituencies than in any other election since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament.

With all constituencies and two regions declared, the SNP are on 63 seats, while the Tories have 21, Labour are on 15, the Scottish Greens have five and the Lib Dems four.

Prime Minister visits West Midlands
The Prime Minister said another referendum would be ‘irresponsible and reckless’ (Phil Noble/PA)

Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted it would be “irresponsible and reckless” to have such a ballot as Britain emerges from the coronavirus crisis.

He told the the Daily Telegraph his impression was that Scottish voters had “moved away from the idea of a referendum”.

One of the seats taken by the SNP was in Glasgow Kelvin, where Kaukab Stewart became the first woman of colour to be elected to Holyrood in its 22 year history.

Labour’s Pam Duncan-Glancy also became the first permanent wheelchair user to be elected to Holyrood on the Glasgow list.

Earlier on in the day, the Tories had held the key seats of both Aberdeenshire West and Galloway and West Dumfries.

And while Ms Sturgeon’s party made other gains in the constituency votes at Holyrood on Friday, their success in gaining Ayr and East Lothian, from the Tories and Labour respectively, will see them lose MSPs from the South of Scotland regional list.

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