Borders MSPs split over rejection of plea for second Scottish independence referendum

Conservative politicians in the Borders have welcomed UK Government prime minister Boris Johnson’s refusal to agree to a second Scottish independence referendum.

Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 5:53 pm
Scottish first minister visiting a factory in Glasgow today, January 15. (Photo by Andy Buchanan/ WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Scottish Government first minister Nicola Sturgeon had requested a re-run of 2014’s poll, arguing that changing circumstances since then justified going back on her claim that it would be a once-in-a-generation event.

Mr Johnson disagreed, however, and that stance is being backed by Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Rachael Hamilton and Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont.

Separation was rejected by 55% of Scots in 2014, and that figure was higher still in the Borders, at 67%, and that result should be respected, according to the Tory pair.

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UK prime minister Boris Johnson in London today, January 15. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Ms Sturgeon begs to differ, however, arguing that Britain’s impending exit from the European Union justifies another vote.

Mrs Hamilton said: “Scotland will not be dragged back to the divisive and uncertain days of 2014. It’s time to move on.

“People are fed up of constant arguments about the constitution.

“This irresponsible SNP government has ignored schools, hospitals, the economy and justice, all to their severe detriment.

“Ms Sturgeon continues to pursue her narrow-minded vision of what she thinks Scotland should be, not what the people want.

“We were told this was a once-in-a-generation vote by her and Alex Salmond, yet since the day we voted to stay in the UK, all we have heard is independence, independence, independence.”

Mr Lamont agrees, saying: “It was the right decision by Boris Johnson.

“We need to end the division and bring our country together.”

Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame begs to differ, however.

“For the past three years, the Tories have done nothing else but bang on about Brexit, which the Borders rejected,” said the Scottish National Party MSP.

“As a result of neglecting domestic issues, English hospitals have desperate folk waiting hours in corridors on trolleys awaiting treatment. Indeed, the English NHS has the worst waiting times for A&E across the whole of the UK, so credit for barefaced cheek in criticising the Scottish Government.

“The Tory campaign in the general election trumpeted opposition to a second referendum, yet the SNP trounced the Tories with only eight MPs as opposed to 48 for the SNP.

“Yet Boris Johnson can ride roughshod over Scotland, continuing the austerity which has seen a constant increase in food-bank demand in the Borders.

“There are now even clothes banks for families at their wits’ end with benefit cuts.

“Denying the Scottish people a right to choose their future is a denial of democracy, and if the Tories are so sure Scotland will reject independence, why block a referendum?”

In his letter to Ms Sturgeon, Mr Johnson told her: “The people of Scotland voted decisively to keep our United Kingdom together, a result which both the Scottish and UK governments committed to respect.

“The UK Government will continue to to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the promise that you made to them.

“I cannot agree to any request for a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums.

“Another independence referendum would continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade, with Scottish schools, hospitals and jobs again left behind because of a campaign to separate the UK.

“It is time that we all worked to bring the whole of the United Kingdom together and unleash the potential of this great country.”