Sturgeon clashes with reporter over independence questions
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Nicola Sturgeon has insisted there is “plenty in the tank” as the SNP leader hit back at her critics and made a huge pledge over Scottish independence. The Scottish First Minister was grilled by Laura Kuenssberg on her BBC show, facing a series of questions on issues such as the gender recognition bill, teachers’ strikes and the crisis engulfing the NHS. But the veteran BBC political journalist also quizzed Ms Sturgeon about the stunning announcement from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier this week, who said she will leave office on February 7 and will not contest the upcoming elections.
Ms Kuenssberg said: “Jacinda Ardern has said she doesn’t feel like she has enough in the tank to continue. How much is in Nicola Sturgeon’s tank?”
Scotland’s First Minister smiled and replied: “There is plenty in the tank at the moment.
“If I ever – I don’t just mean on a single day – but if I ever reach the point she has clearly reached, then I hope I have the same courage she has had and said: “This is the point I will go”.
“But just for the avoidance of doubt, I don’t feel anywhere near that right now.”
The First Minister also insisted she will still be the leader that takes Scotland to independence – despite a number of recent setbacks to her plan.
Ms Kuenssberg asked: “You’ve had extraordinary electoral success, year after year. Do you think you are still the leader to take Scotland to independence?”
The SNP leader replied: “I would like to think so. I think Scotland is going to be independent.
“Of course, nobody would believe me if I said I wished it was somebody else but for me, who the leader is that takes Scotland to independence is less important.”
The veteran pressed Ms Sturgeon further, adding: “Do you still feel it will be you?”
Scotland’s First Minister simply replied: “Yes I do.”
Ms Sturgeon suffered a blow at the end of last year when the UK Supreme Court ruled the Scottish Government cannot stage a second referendum on independence without the consent of Westminster.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as well as his predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, have always insisted they will not grant the relevant powers to the Scottish Parliament to hold IndyRef2.
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The Scottish First Minister has now instead vowed to make the next UK general election – scheduled for May 2024 – a de facto referendum.
But earlier this week, two different polls appeared to show there are mixed opinions over whether Scots actually want independence.
The latest poll carried out by Survation for advisory company True North quizzed 1,002 Scots between January 10 and 12, finding 54 percent would vote “No” in an independence referendum.
In the first poll on Scottish voting intention released in 2023, that put backing for a “Yes” vote at 46 percent when “don’t knows” were removed.
This came after a number of polls towards the end of last year had put “Yes” ahead of “No” on the independence question.
But in a separate poll, carried out amid the row over Westminster stepping in to block reforms of the gender recognition process in Scotland, it was revealed Scots are in favour of independence.
Research by Find Out Now for The National showed 54 percent backed Scotland leaving the UK, with 46 percent in favour of remaining.
Commenting on the poll, SNP MSP Rona Mackay said: “It’s clear people in Scotland have had enough of opposition parties’ Trump-like denial of Scottish democracy and the damage caused by ever-tightening Westminster control.
“Both Labour and the Tories are now hard Brexit parties, committed to keeping Scotland out of both the EU and the huge single market which means the economy and living standards are being hit hard.
“Westminster is undermining both the Scottish Parliament and our economy, which is why more and more people believe it is right that decisions about Scotland should be made by the people who live here so that we can build a fairer and more prosperous independent country.”
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