Alister Jack clashes with Pete Wishart on SNP’s Holyrood result
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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she wants a second vote to take place before the end of 2023, subject to the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland. But the Scottish Secretary reaffirmed his “once in a generation” position of being every 25 years during the Tory Party conference.
Mr Jack told Express.co.uk last year that a generation was “between 20 and 30 years” after the initial 2014 vote.
But speaking on Wednesday, he added: “The trigger in my mind, and I look to the situation in Northern Ireland for instance, if 60 per cent of people wanted a referendum and that position was sustained for over 12 months, then I can see there would be a desire for a referendum.
“But [a referendum] can’t come every five or six or seven years.
“The SNP would only have to win once if we just keep asking the question.”
The Scottish Secretary also accused Ms Sturgeon of “gaming the system” because the SNP did not win an outright majority in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election.
This is despite a Cooperation Agreement with the Scottish Greens which commits to holding a second referendum on Scottish independence after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed within the current parliamentary session.
The Minister added: “When Alex Salmond came forward with the Alba Party, she said he was gaming the system.
“She said he wasn’t standing on the first part the post list, it was just on the regional lists.
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“And that she called gaming the system.
“Well the Greens didn’t stand first past the post, so by her own definition she’s gaming the system.”
In response to the comments, SNP MP for North Perthshire Pete Wishart said: “The people who will determine the future of our nation are the Scottish people.
“We will do it adhering to the best principles of democracy.
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“All attempts by the Tories to gerrymander our democracy will not succeed.”
Veteran SNP politician and QC Joanna Cherry, added: “The current UK constitutional set-up permits a Northern Irish referendum on Irish reunification every seven years.
“Why should the position be any different for Scotland and why should a party that hasn’t won an election in Scotland since the Fifties set these conditions?”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson would still have to grant permission for a legal vote and has so far signalled a no to granting a section 30 order required for a referendum.
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