Nicola Sturgeon 'paused indyref2 plans' due to Covid-19 and is 'frustrated' Boris Johnson did not do the same with Brexit
Nicola Sturgeon said any planning for a second Scottish Independence referendum was put on hold by her government when Covid-19 began to impact the country in March.
The First Minister was reacting to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s comments that the UK should prepare itself for a no-deal Brexit after the EU and UK failed to agree a deal by the self-imposed deadline of the EU Council summit yesterday.
Mr Johnson said Brussels would not give Britain the kind of deal he wants and insisted unless that changes, there would be no agreement.
Ms Sturgeon said she viewed the prospect of a no-deal Brexit amid an accelerating Covid-19 pandemic as “avoidable” due to the UK Government’s ability to have asked for an extension to the transition period.
She said she was “deeply frustrated and depressed” about the prospect of no deal.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister claimed she had put her own plans on “constitutional matters” on hold due to the pandemic.
Ms Sturgeon said: "At the start of this pandemic, I, no doubt to the dismay of some people in my base of supporters, said the planning I might have been doing for constitutional matters that I support was put on pause and on hold because this had to take all of my time and attention.
"The UK Government could have done that on Brexit and said we’re going to ask for an extension to the transition, so we don’t have to worry about these things until we are out of Covid.
"It didn’t do that and that is a matter of real frustration and depression.
"That is not just because I am an opponent of Brexit, everybody knows that, but it is because we don’t need another big thing to be dealing with when all of us should be focusing on the Covid priority that lies ahead of us.”
However, despite plans being paused in March and the ongoing pandemic, the SNP announced plans for a draft bill setting out the question and an approximate timetable for when a second referendum could be held during their programme for government announcement on 1 September.
At the time, Ms Sturgeon said she would be using the Holyrood campaign ahead of the elections in May 2021 to “make the case” for independence and the draft bill would set out the terms of indyref2 “clearly and unambiguously”.
Polling for independence has shown a clear lead emerge for Yes, with the most recent poll putting support for independence at as high as 58 per cent, with No on 42 per cent.
The same IpsosMori poll showed the SNP securing a landslide victory in the Holyrood elections and nearly two thirds of the Scottish Parliament being filled by pro-independence parties.
Boris Johnson, speaking after the end of the European Council summit, said earlier today that it is was unlikely for there to be a deal between the EU and the UK.
He said: “Given they have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, and given that this summit is explicitly to rule out a Canada style deal, we must get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s.”
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