‘Second fiddle! Sturgeon accused of OBSESSING over indyref and ignoring schools and NHS

FMQs: Sturgeon says Ross is ‘terrified’ of Indyref2

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The First Minister has now been accused of paying too much attention to this aim and, as a result, of forcing education and the NHS to play “second fiddle”. Ms Sturgeon, quoted in The Scotsman, insisted these issues were not “distinct or separate” from independence.

As the SNP this week launched a new independence campaign, insisting Brexit meant enough had changed since 2014 to justify another vote, the move has been greeted with some consternation. 

Officials are now considering the legal route to holding a referendum, given the power to grant such a vote is held by Number 10.

But opposition politicians stressed her focus on a “divisive” referendum was damaging the usual progress of policymaking.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, citing policy problems, including education, asked Ms Sturgeon: “Why should all these issues play second fiddle to another divisive independence referendum next year?”

The SNP leader responded that independence was not a mere “distraction” but was, instead, the answer to the problem.

She said: “Independence is part of the solution to those challenges. It’s about how we equip ourselves better as a country to meet those challenges and fulfil our potential.

“It’s not the distraction that Douglas Ross wants to pretend it is.

“Instead it presents an alternative to a failing UK system, a failing UK system that gives us right now a Prime Minister with no democratic or moral mandate in Scotland.”

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This response, however, only helped to further frustrate Mr Ross, who accused Ms Sturgeon of missing the point.

He told Holyrood: “What a depressing answer from the First Minister.

“Never once responding to the points about education, about our NHS, about the justice system, never once responding to these issues that are pressing for people across Scotland right now.

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“It will be playing second fiddle to an independence referendum because we know the First Minister cannot focus on improving our country when she is trying to divide it all over again.”

Numerous commentators have highlighted the legal route to a referendum remains unclear.

Mujtaba Rahman, Europe Managing Director at the Eurasia Group, also noted that the SNP would be unlikely to hold a vote illegally because of the implications of such a ballot if the “Yes” result came out on top.

He wrote in a post on Twitter: “[It is] very unclear how a legal [referendum] will be delivered. And an illegal one will undermine Scotland’s case for EU membership.”

Boris Johnson this week doubled down on his opposition to a second referendum, less than a decade after the last was held.

He said: “The decision was taken by the Scottish people only a few years ago, in recent memory. I think we should respect that.”

Ms Sturgeon insisted that Tories are “terrified” of another vote on Scottish independence, having suggested that if voters had known in 2014 that Brexit was around the corner, they would “undoubtedly” have voted “Yes”.

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