Sturgeon ‘is incapable’ says Neil Oliver
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The First Minister, who remains fixated on a second vote for Scottish independence in 2023, travelled to the United States as part of a plan to expand the country’s role on the international stage.
As she worked to make Edinburgh “more active internationally”, the SNP leader was said to have used her time in Washington DC to discuss “the constitutional future of the UK” with a senior member of the Biden Administration.
But while Holyrood emphasised “Scotland’s future” was part of the agenda, US notes of the meeting made no mention of the subject.
A post on the First Minister’s official Twitter account read: “In a meeting with US State Dept Deputy Sec State Wendy Sherman in Washington DC, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon discussed the situation in Ukraine and resulting refugee crisis, the Northern Ireland protocol and the constitutional future of the UK.”
Without reference to Scotland’s potential UK exit, Ned Price, a spokesperson for the US State Department, said: “Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today in Washington.
“Dx Deputy Secretary Sherman and First Minister Sturgeon discussed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine and the humanitarian and refugee crisis it has spread across Europe.”
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It added: “Deputy Secretary Sherman also thanked Sturgeon for Scotland’s support of COP-26 and the ambitious, historic results the international community achieved in Glasgow to address the global climate crisis.”
The different readouts have put Ms Sturgeon in the spotlight, with opposition politicians scrutinising her attitude while overseas.
Scottish Tory Constitution spokesman Donald Cameron said: “For all Nicola Sturgeon’s efforts to sell her independence obsession to her US hosts, they know how damaging it would be at home and abroad.
“While the First Minister is desperate to portray Scotland’s constitutional future as a key focus of her discussions, it’s interesting that the others didn’t deem it worthy of a mention.
“It appears they either moved swiftly on when Nicola Sturgeon raised her favourite subject, or the First Minister is exaggerating the extent to which it was discussed.
“Instead of trying to convert US officials to the selfish cause of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon should be focused on tackling her government’s woeful performance here in Scotland.”
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Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Successive First Ministers have represented Scotland abroad but the previous ones were focused on boosting Scottish business and forging important diplomatic relationships.
“Using meetings with US officials to bang on about Scottish independence looks hopelessly out of touch at a time when most Scots are more concerned with the state of the economy and the cost-of-living crisis.”
Scottish Labour Constitution spokesperson Sarah Boyack said: “The First Minister’s jaunt to the States is clearly less about promoting Scotland’s interests and more about promoting her own.
“The SNP insist they can’t spare another penny to help people across Scotland struggling with the cost of living crisis – and yet taxpayers’ money is being frittered on this transparent attempt to peddle the Nationalists’ reckless separatist agenda abroad.”
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Although polls suggest most Scots oppose Ms Sturgeon’s timetable as well as her lack of legal support from the UK Government, the First Minister is expected to shortly unveil legislation for an independence referendum to be held next year.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month said it would be “irresponsible and reckless” to stage a second independence referendum.
Yet, a defiant Ms Sturgeon warned Mr Johnson he would “have to go to court” to stop her new government from making another vote happen.
This comes amid a row over NATO membership that saw the First Minister vow an independent Scotland would play a central role in protecting the world’s seas against Russian aggression.
As she made the ambitious pledge, which lacks alignment with the SNP’s determination to scrap the UK’s nuclear submarine base at Faslane, Ms Sturgeon said Moscow’s war on Ukraine had cemented her belief that Scotland should join the North Atlantic Alliance after leaving the UK.
Speaking during a panel by the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, she said: “The events of the last three months have strengthened my conviction that this position is absolutely the right one.
“I am firm in my view that — coupled with a strong relationship with the UK — membership of the EU and of NATO will be cornerstones of an independent Scotland’s security policy.”
Touching upon the Nordics’ NATO plans, she said it was significant that Sweden and Finland now intended to enter the alliance, calling it a historic shift of position for both nations.
During the two-day tour, Ms Sturgeon also met Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives in the US Congress.
She presented her with a book of poems and songs by Scottish poet Robert Burns.
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