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No plans for EU membership vote in independent Scotland, says Sturgeon

Katrine Bussey, PA Scotland Political Editor

Nicola Sturgeon has said she has no plans to call a separate referendum on whether an independent Scotland should join the European Union.

She said a “detailed prospectus” would be put to Scots ahead of any second independence referendum, and she claimed most people would want to be part of the EU again.

She was pressed on the issue as she launched the SNP manifesto for May’s Holyrood election.

If the SNP wins that vote, Ms Sturgeon has already made plain her desire for there to be another ballot on the future of the UK before the end of 2023.

Asked if there would then be a referendum on joining the EU after that, Ms Sturgeon told journalists: “That’s not my policy.”

She added: “Just as in 2014 when people had a detailed prospectus on which to base their vote, that is my intention for a future independence referendum too.”

She insisted the case for independence is “winning hearts and minds across Scotland almost every single day”.

She claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson is aware of this, as she said that is why he has so far blocked calls for another vote on the issue.

Ms Sturgeon said if next month’s election results in a majority of MSPs who support independence, the “power of democracy” means it will be impossible for the UK Government to continue to stop such a poll.

She said: “I believe in the power of democracy. And I believe it is not just wrong but unsustainable for any politician to stand in the way of democracy.”

Former SNP MP Kenny MacAskill, who left the party recently to join Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party, has claimed there is “no fact” in the First Minister’s claims that an SNP win would lead to the Prime Minister granting a Section 30 order for a referendum.

Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon said she believes Boris Johnson is aware the case for independence is ‘winning hearts and minds across Scotland’ (PA)

But Ms Sturgeon insisted: “If Scotland votes for a majority, a simple majority, in this election of MSPs proposing an independence referendum, this is not about requesting anything from Boris Johnson, other than demanding he respects Scottish democracy.

“Let’s make that very clear.”

She added: “We have got a situation in this election where the Tories in Scotland are saying I want to have a referendum in the teeth of a pandemic – which is not true.

“Of course they forced through Brexit in the teeth of a pandemic.

“If people like Boris Johnson were so certain that the independence case is so flawed, and that people would be so unlikely to vote for it, he would be rushing to have an independence referendum.

“The fact that he is not… shows that he knows it is the independence case that is winning hearts and minds across Scotland almost every single day.”