BBC Breakfast host exposes SNP infighting over independence as pressure builds on Sturgeon

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BBC Breakfast host Chris Mason exposed the chaos erupting into the SNP in the middle of its own annual party conference. Mr Mason clashed with John Swinney, who serves as Deputy First Minister of Scotland, over infighting inside the SNP over how to carry out a new referendum vote on independence. This comes after another senior SNP politician Joanna Cherry said yesterday that Nicola Sturgeon should ignore Boris Johnson and “press ahead with Scottish independence referendum”.

However, Ms Sturgeon has urged the party to wait for consent from the Westminster Government, despite repeated refusals from Boris Johnson.

Mr Mason brought up this party split, saying: “Can you guarantee that if the SNP win the Scottish elections next year that there will be another Scottish independence referendum?”

He responded: “I think, if there is a parliamentary majority for such a concept that should happen. That is the guarantee I would give to the Scottish people.

“If we are elected and we command a parliamentary majority, we will make sure that happens.”

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Mr Mason fired back: “It should happen. You’ll make sure it happens. The crucial thing here is if Boris Johnson says no – which he says he would – whether or not you guys push ahead with one anyway?

“There are some in your party say that is a good idea and others that say no. Where do you fall in that argument?”

Mr Swinney said: “I fall on the side of the democratic argument. If the people of Scotland want to decide their own constitutional future they must be able to do so. No UK Government should stand in their way of doing that.”

The BBC Breakfast host interrupted: “But what if they do?”

Mr Swinney said: “We have to make sure the UK Government lives up to its democratic obligations.

“That is what the UK Government did in 2012, enabling us to have a legitimate referendum in 2014.

“We have 14 opinion polls in a row in Scotland demonstrating a clear majority support for a Yes position.”

Mr Mason added: “But to be absolutely clear, are you saying you would only want a referendum if it was sanctioned by the Government in Westminster, or are you willing to entertain the idea of having one without Boris Johnson’s permission?”


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Mr Swinney struggled to respond, only saying that the SNP would pressure the UK Government to back a new referendum vote.

On Saturday, Nicola Sturgeon opened the Scottish National party annual conference by telling members she has “never been so certain” the country will achieve independence.

She said Scotland was “a nation on the cusp of making history” with the SNP’s goal of independence “in clear sight”.

However, there is no clear legal path to carrying out a referendum, prompting Ms Cherry to push for her party to pursue a “Plan B”.

There is a growing pressure on Nicola Sturgeon to explore alternative ways to hold a referendum without Boris Johnson’s permission.

Ms Sturgeon has faced criticism from within her own party for failing to deliver a new referendum, having twice abandoned plans to hold a second vote in recent years.

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