Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to put her campaign for Scottish independence on the backburner as she insisted she will focus on the coronavirus pandemic instead. The Scottish First Minister vowed to return to pushing for independence once the crisis is over. It comes as support for an independent Scotland has increased.
Speaking on BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Ms Sturgeon said: “At the moment I’m focused 100 percent on tackling COVID and people can agree with that or not agree with it.
“Until we are out of this crisis that is going to continue to be the case.
“I think everybody knows I want Scotland to be indepedent but the scenario you outline there has a lesson in it for my own party.
“At no point during this have I weighted my decisions on a political or constitutional basis.
“But as you say, a time where I and the SNP have not been talking about independence all the time but getting on with the job of autonomous decision making, support for independence appears to have increased.
“Maybe there’s a bit of a lesson in there about show, not tell.”
Mr Marr asked: “It does sound like no more talk of the next referendum, at least not for the rest of this year.”
The First Minister added: “As long as I need to be focusing on the coronavirus crisis and the economic legacy of that crisis that will have my 100 percent focus.”
It comes as an SNP MP has been accused of making a “direct challenge” to Nicola Sturgeon after backing the idea of a separate pro-independence party standing in next year’s Holyrood election.
Kenny MacAskill, who served as justice secretary in Alex Salmond’s government, said the focus of the ballot is “almost certainly” going to be on the constitution, so having such a party on the regional list section will provide voters with greater choice.
His comments come after a poll for the pro-independence Wings Over Scotland website found 26% of Scottish voters would either definitely or probably give their list vote to a party led by former first minister Mr Salmond.
With opinion polls currently suggesting the SNP is on track for a record fourth Holyrood victory, Mr MacAskill warned the party’s success in the constituency section of the ballot could limit the number of seats it wins via the regional lists.
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Writing in the Scotsman newspaper, the East Lothian MP said: “‘Both Votes SNP’ just doesn’t work.
“The focus of the election is almost certainly going to be on the constitution. What better way of allowing Scottish voters a choice than a specific ‘independence’ option on the list.”
But Labour shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said Mr MacAskill’s backing for a separate pro-independence party is “clearly a direct challenge to Nicola Sturgeon’s authority from a sitting MP”.
He added: “What’s most telling is that Mr MacAskill and his supporters want to make next year’s election all about constitutional division.
“When you scratch under the surface it’s always about independence for the SNP, when it should be about the NHS and jobs. The priority should be economic recovery and protecting our health service, not dividing the people of Scotland once again.”
Published at Sun, 12 Jul 2020 10:11:00 +0000