Rennie and Farron react to Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement on the second independence referendum

It looks like either a second referendum on Scottish Independence in 5 years is on its way. Either that or an indefinite stalemate between the Tory Government in London (who must give permission for the vote) and Nicola Sturgeon’s nationalist government in Edinburgh.

This was inevitable ever since the Brexit vote. That a large majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU was always going to lead us to this place. Nicola Sturgeon built a very big tent in the hours after the result was declared but she and her ministers spent the rest of the Summer dismantling it piece by piece. They talked about independence incessantly. Now, they’re a nationalist government. They are not going to give up on independence because they lost a vote any more than I’m going to give up on the EU.

You have to govern for all of your people, though and, at the moment, there is no sign that anything like a majority of the  Scottish people want an independence referendum. For many, relationships from the division and polarisation of the last one are only just healing over.

Willie Rennie and Tim Farron have both been reacting to today’s announcement. Willie said:

The SNP have been working towards this announcement for months. They have been determined to contrive a way to ignore their promise that 2014 was ‘once in a generation’.

There is no wide public support for a new and divisive referendum.

Scottish Liberal Democrats stood on a manifesto to oppose a divisive referendum and we will do that.

The big concern is that the SNP’s policy risks leaving Scotland outside of the EU and outside of the UK.

The First Minister refused to state that Scotland would be a full EU member under her plan.The SNP have airbrushed membership of the EU from their independence plans. That will let down all those who support the EU.

That is the worst possible result for jobs, trade and security.

From a UK perspective, Tim added:

Scottish Liberal Democrats stood for election last year on a platform to oppose a new independence referendum. That is what we will do.

The First Minister refused to state that Scotland would be a full EU member under her plan. The SNP are risking taking Scotland out of both the UK and out of the EU. Being outside both would be the worst of all worlds for Scotland.

We believe that the SNP have gone back on their word that 2014 was “once in a generation.

So what happens now? Well, next week, the Scottish Parliament will vote on whether to seek that Section 30 Order. The SNP and the Greens will both vote for it and everyone else will vote against.

Then the Tories can do one of four  things:

  • Allow the referendum to go ahead to the SNP’s timescale
  • Tell the SNP they need to do it after Brexit is out of the way or some other caveat, like winning a pro indy majority. I wonder if the SNP would put that to an early election….
  • Decide to hold one themselves (unlikely but not impossible)
  • Refuse point blank to let them have one.

The first would make a mockery out of the “Ruth Davidson for a strong opposition” leaflets. All of the options mean a prolonged period of uncertainty for the Scottish economy. If the referendum goes ahead to the SNP’s plans, we’d have spent 5 of the past 10 years with this dominating our discourse. What environment is that for business?

What we do know is what the Liberal Democrats are going to do – vote against. Anything else would be ridiculous given that we gave ourselves no wiggle room in the very last line of  our 2016 manifesto.

We will not support a second referendum on independence in the next parliamentary term. Full stop.




* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News and Op-eds.


  • nvelope2003 13th Mar '17 - 9:15pm

    If the Scots vote Yes to independence will there be a second referendum on the terms for leaving the UK ?

  • nigel hunter 13th Mar '17 - 10:21pm

    Scotland leaves the Union then joins the EU? England leaves the EU and launches itself to the wolves of the World? The west in turmoil, will WW3 bring us to our senses?

  • nigel hunter 13th Mar '17 - 10:42pm

    If Sturgeon has tunnel vision on Independence, May has it on Hard Brexit

  • Interesting if expected bad timing on behalf of Nicola.
    If there is to be an indyref2 then I think the planning and terms need to be better. As much as they might not want too, the government needs to have detailed answers as to what happens if Scotland votes out we would need to know what happens to Trident, alongside a number of other issues if the yes side wins, simply saying we have no plans for x as we don’t expect Scotland to leave will not be acceptable.
    Also the terms of a successful leave vote need to be looked at, are we really going to go for a 50% + 1 vote is sufficient, after all the criticism that the Brexit vote should have had to reach a larger winning margin in order to implement such significant and potentially permanent change?
    Finally I would accept that perhaps only the Scottish should vote as to whether to leave or not, but, if it is a leave vote then the all of the U.K. needs to have a vote on the terms of the deal, either that or everybody votes on the break up of the U. K., it surely cannot be democratic if only one part of the U.K. gets a direct say on something as significant as the break up of the country.The terms of leaving, division of assets and liabilities, how would the army work? would there be a currency union? would the rest of the U.K. be lender of last resort to a newly independent Scotland and would that allow us a veto on their budget? if not us then who would take that role? All this needs to be crystal clear this time round, lets cut out the ‘yes we will’, ‘no you wont’ pantomime that went on last time.

  • It is disappointing that our Scottish Party aren’t more open to the option of supporting independence. There is, after all, little to be gained except invisibility by trying to be the third cheerleader for union and throwing our lot in the both Labour and the Tories.

  • Ian, you think our Scottish Party should change stance on something so fundamental merely so voters notice them? This is the future of the UK, not a popularity contest.
    Not that it would make us popular. As Caron has pointed out, it would mean breaking the 2016 manifesto. Think that would win friends and voters?

  • Ian – speaking for myself, I actually BELIEVE in remaining in the UK. It’s important to me; an emotional issue. It’s not about party positioning. We should stick to our principles.

  • Not sure we have got this one right. Like most people looking at this board (I assume) I am completely against Brexit. The Scots voted against it and they see a possible way of staying in. Can’t blame them for giving it a go.
    There also a democratic principle. the Scots were pretty much stiched up when they were told that voting NO in 2014 would secure their place in Europe. No if public opinion north of the border wants to look at Independence again, it looks pretty bad if we oppose that.

  • Narrow minded and short term thinking will get us nowhere.

    The strategic gameplan has to be to find a way to defeat the small-c conservative little England mentality that currently appears so dominant.

    An independent Scotland open to the world whilst inside the EU could be the key catalyst.

    I don’t see we have any future in Scotland by tagging along behind an unholy Tory-Labour alliance.

  • nvelope2003 14th Mar '17 - 9:28pm

    I thought the Liberal Democrats believed in Scotland being part of a Federal Britain. What happened to that idea ?

  • It seems to me that our position should be: “we are in favour of a Federal UK. In the absence of this, we will not oppose Scottish independence as a means of self determination.” Note that this is not the same as actively campaigning for independence but it acknowledges the status quo is untenable and the fact the Scots were effectively lied to over the EU during the previous referendum. The constitutional reform fairy isn’t going to magic up a Federal UK any more than we can expect to be using PR to elect our MPs any time soon.

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