The Prime Minister announced on Monday that her campaign for Scottish independence “will resume for good” in the spring. But the SNP leader has been criticized for focusing on her next move to break the Union after the emergence of the new variant of the Omicron coronavirus.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross called it “a shame”, while Scottish Labor deputy leader Jackie Baillie said it was “deeply disappointing and irresponsible”.
Mr Ross said: ‘The people of Scotland will have sighed in dismay – but not disbelief – that Nicola Sturgeon’s response to the new strain of Covid is to reaffirm his commitment to hold another independence referendum that divides in every two years.
“It’s a shame that on the same day the Prime Minister talks about the possibility of introducing new restrictions to tackle the Omicron variant, she is once again focusing on dismantling the UK.
“But, as usual with the SNP, independence trumps all other priorities, even when poll after poll tells them the public wants them to continue with their day-to-day work.
“The Scottish NHS is at a breaking point, our drug-related death crisis is shaming the nation, our education system is in decline and the SNP’s soft approach to justice is failing the public.
“Nicola Sturgeon’s government has created a whole host of problems – and has a duty to solve them – but their minds are elsewhere.”
Ms Baillie added: “It is deeply disappointing and irresponsible, in the face of a worsening public health crisis, that the Prime Minister is once again focusing on the division between Scotland and the rest of the UK. “
Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: “Nicola Sturgeon’s speech contained almost twice as many references to independence as to health services.
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Ms Sturgeon commented on Scottish independence as she gave the closing speech at the SNP’s annual conference on Monday.
Having already pledged to hold a second independence referendum before the end of 2023, the prime minister said the campaign will “resume for good” next spring.
Boris Johnson has so far refused Ms Sturgeon’s pressure for Scotland to have another vote on its future after the country decisively rejected independence in 2014.
Mrs Sturgeon said: “My message to the Prime Minister is this – if you have the slightest respect for democracy – and if you have the slightest confidence in your argument against independence – you too will let the people decide.
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“Next year, if Covid allows it, as we move out of winter into spring, the campaign to persuade a majority of people in Scotland that our future will be more secure as an independent nation will resume in earnest.
“Over the next year, I will initiate the necessary process to enable a referendum before the end of 2023.
“And just as important, our party will once again present the positive dossier of independence.
“We will highlight the opportunities and benefits that independence opens up the possibility of repairing the damage from Covid – including the fiscal challenges it has created for all countries – in a way that aligns with our values and priorities as that nation.
“Use our financial and human resources to fight poverty and provide a better life for young people.
“Using our vast natural resources to help protect our planet and secure green jobs for the future.
“And to join the European family of nations, so that we can broaden our horizons and not shrink, and develop our trade throughout the continent.”
“We will also be candid about the challenges that the transition to independence will present, and clearly define how we can and will overcome them. And then, friends, we’ll ask the people to decide.