“We say Yes, and we are the people”: Sturgeon's defiant call for Scottish democracy 

Tories will break union if they reject the will of Scotland’s parliament on #ScotRef

DEMOCRACY IN SCOTLAND is at stake in the historic decision to hold a fresh independence referendum on the country’s future, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the party’s spring conference today [Saturday 18 March] in Aberdeen. 

With the Scottish Parliament set to vote on holding a fresh referendum when the terms of Brexit are clear, Sturgeon called on Theresa May and her Tory regime to respect the wishes of parliament and Scotland’s right to decide its future. 

The stand-off emerged this week when Sturgeon called for a referendum between Autumn of 2018 and Spring 2019. While Sturgeon’s SNP and pro-independence Green party have a mandate for a referendum, the legal right to hold one is contested by the Westminster Government - raising the prospect it would be blocked. 

“Next week, in line with the mandate secured at last May's election, we will ask the Scottish Parliament to agree that the Scottish people should have the right to choose our own future,” she said.

“She has time to think again and I hope she does. If her concern is timing then - within reason - I am happy to have that discussion. But let the Prime Minister be in no doubt. The will of our parliament must and will prevail.” Nicola Sturgeon 

“We will ask Parliament to agree that this choice should be exercised at a time when we know the terms of Brexit, but before it is too late to take a different path. And we will ask Parliament's permission to seek the legal authority that will allow the people of Scotland to have that choice.

“If a majority in the Scottish Parliament endorses that position, the Prime Minister should be clear about this. At that point a fair, legal and agreed referendum  - on a timescale that will allow Scotland an informed choice - ceases to be just my proposal, or that of the SNP.

“It becomes the will of the democratically elected Parliament of Scotland. To stand in defiance of that would be for the Prime Minister to shatter beyond repair any notion of the UK as a respectful partnership of equals.

“She has time to think again and I hope she does. If her concern is timing then - within reason - I am happy to have that discussion. But let the Prime Minister be in no doubt. The will of our parliament must and will prevail.”

The speech has been subject of speculation for months - as a deadline for deciding about a referendum on the eve of the Tories triggering Article 50 on the exit from the European Union. However, pre-empting the conference with an address from Bute House meant the speech was instead focused on broad arguments rather than new announcements. 

Concluding the speech, Sturgeon quoted Canon Kenyon Wright, the chair of the Constitutional Convention that led to the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament. 

When asked how the movement for democracy in Scotland should respond to a Westminster government saying ‘No’ to calls for change he replied: “Well we say yes and we are the people”.

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is: Pledge your support today.

CommonSpace journalism is completely free from the influence of advertisers and is only possible with your continued support. Please contribute a monthly amount towards our costs. Build the Scotland you want to live in - support our new media.