Sophy Ridge grilled Nicola Sturgeon over the idea of a Referendum Act that would dash the hopes of those campaigning for Scottish independence. The Sunday Times said the plan being considered by ministers would mean that more than half of Scotland’s entire electorate, rather than a majority as is currently the case, would need to vote to leave the union before secession would be allowed. Ms Ridge said: “The Truss team want to introduce a new law that would mean if a referendum takes places, at least 50 percent of Scotland’s entire electorate would have to vote to leave the union if it happens.
“In other words, not a simple majority in the EU referendum or the previous referendum.
“For something as significant as breaking away from the union, is that something that you would accept?”
Ms Sturgeon replied: “No because it is a changing of the basic rules of democracy that we have all abided by for our entire lifetimes and long before that.
“Can you imagine the literal foaming at the mouth from the Conservative party if anyone had suggested that for Brexit?
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“Just because you fear losing a democratic contest, it’s not an excuse or doesn’t make it acceptable to rethink the rules of democracy.
“There has never been a positive case of the union made for those who put forward that case.”
Ms Ridge interjected: “Rather than getting involved in the rights and wrongs of the argument…”
Ms Sturgeon raged: “You asked me a question about a proposition!”
The host continued: “How could a referendum take place. Another part of the Sunday Times report says the UK Government wouldn’t allow another referendum unless there was evidence for more than a year that 60 percent of voters wanted one.”
The newspaper said the plan would require evidence for more than a year that at least 60 percent of voters want a new referendum on independence before the UK Government would even consider it.
And then if the referendum did take place, at least half of all of Scotland’s electorate would need to vote to leave the union – rather than a majority of more than 50 percent of those who voted, which was the case with the 2014 independence referendum and the 2016 Brexit vote.
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Tweeting on Saturday night, the Scottish First Minister wrote: “Only those who fear losing feel the need to change the democratic goalposts.
“This desperate suggestion is proof positive that the independence arguments are winning.”
In 2014, 85 percent of the Scottish electorate voted – a record turnout for the UK – and when the ballots were counted it emerged that 55 percent backed remaining part of the union.
Ms Sturgeon has already made clear her determination hold a second vote on independence in October 2023, but to do so she needs the UK Supreme Court to rule such a vote can be held without the consent of Westminster.
If she cannot hold a referendum next year, the SNP leader has vowed to make the next Westminster election a “de facto referendum” on independence.