THE SCOTTISH government has been accused of setting a timetable for a ‘wild’ referendum next year after the SNP’s Constitution Secretary said his administration planned to hold a second independence vote next October .
The pledge comes after Nicola Sturgeon launched her administration’s renewed case for independence – as she suggested a new strategy to legally stage a rerun of the 2014 poll will be set out shortly.
As it looks increasingly unlikely that Boris Johnson will accept an order under Section 30 of Scots Law, as happened in 2014, the Prime Minister has said that an alternative, potentially without the agreement of the British government, would be proposed.
On Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon said she “intends” to hold a referendum by the end of 2023.
But SNP Constitutional Secretary Angus Robertson told BBC Good Morning Scotland his government hopes the poll will take place in October next year.
Mr Robertson highlighted Ms Sturgeon’s announcement on Tuesday that ‘she intends to make an announcement in the Scottish Parliament in the coming weeks on the roadmap for the referendum we intend to hold next October “.
He added: “I see no reason for the UK Government to refuse a Section 30 order.
“This is the procedure that was agreed in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum, the gold standard for holding a recognized and agreed constitutional referendum.”
On Tuesday, Mr Roberton was banned from making a statement to Holyrood about reviving the Scottish government’s independence campaign after a furious president took offense at details announced at a press conference before they are unveiled in Parliament.
But Mr Robertson came under renewed criticism after announcing the proposed date for the referendum on the radio.
Scottish Conservative chief whip Craig Hoy said ‘the SNP has ignored the warning to make major announcements in Parliament rather than via the media’.
He added: “Less than a day after the President refused to allow Angus Robertson to make his statement because it had been anticipated by Nicola Sturgeon’s press conference, the Constitutional Secretary has chosen to announce the scheduled date of the wild referendum in a radio interview.”
Boris Johnson has slammed the renewed drive to dismantle the UK, calling a potential trade border between Scotland and England “stupid”.
Ms Sturgeon admitted a hard trade border with England is a likely consequence of separation if an independent Scotland joins the EU.
The Prime Minister said ‘there will be customs and trade regulation issues’ but insisted ‘the benefits of being in the single market outweigh the challenges’.
But Boris Johnson rejected renewed calls and warned there were “other topics in the national conversation at the moment” which should take priority.
The Prime Minister was pressed on the issue by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who claimed ‘Scotland is held back by Westminster’.
Mr Blackford added that ‘Scotland simply cannot afford to remain trapped in the broken Westminster system’, pointing to ‘a threat to a trade war with our European friends’ over Brexit.
But the Prime Minister has suggested he is trying to end a trade barrier between Britain and Northern Ireland – instead pointing the finger at the Scottish government’s independence plans.
He said: “What could be more insane than a project that actually contemplates trade barriers or inside part of the UK?
“That’s what we’re trying to break down.”
Labor’s David Lammy has ruled out holding a referendum within the next decade.
The Labor leader was asked on Sky News if he could say a vote won’t happen in the next 10 years.
He replied: “categorically. We are a unionist party. We believe in the Union. We can rule this out categorically.