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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Sturgeon won’t call new Scotland independence vote until COVID ‘under control’

Scotland’s first minister has said there won’t be a new independence referendum until the COVID crisis is “under control”.

Nicola Sturgeon said she wouldn’t “set a precise level of infection” for when a vote could happen, “but you would want to see the COVID situation under control – the pressure on our National Health Service significantly lower that is right now”.

“This is not just about safety of polling stations,” she added.

“It is about making sure that as a country faces a big, important decision about its future, it’s able to focus on that properly and it doesn’t have looming over that a COVID crisis.”

She said a spike in cases in Scotland was putting “enormous pressure” on health services

Nicola Sturgeon said it would be her judgement call when to announce the referendum

“I don’t think that kind of situation would be a good backdrop for the country considering and making a big decision on its future,” said the first minister.

She added that a final decision was a “matter of judgement, and it’s important I get that judgement right”.

When asked if she was waiting for a moment when it was more politically advantageous to call IndyRef2, she replied: “Any politician is going to factor those kind of judgements into that decision, and I am not going to sit here and pretend otherwise.”

But, she added, “my primary consideration is to do what’s right for the country, when is it right – I think it’s right the country gets to choose its future.”

Despite a recent spike in COVID cases, Ms Sturgeon said there is not currently a plan to reimpose lockdown in Scotland over the winter.

However, she said: “I think any responsible leader has to keep options open and not rule anything out.”

She said the surge cases in Scotland appears to be “levelling off” as we move into autumn.

Ms Sturgeon also confirmed that the Scottish Parliament has approved legislation for a “very limited” vaccine certification programme.

She said it is believed this will “reduce transmission in some higher-risk settings”.

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“Of course any measure we take has upsides and downsides,” Ms Sturgeon added.

“Nothing is straightforward here and this is a very limited scheme and it has a part to play.”

With the COP26 climate conference due to take place in Glasgow at the end of October, she said there are “big, big challenges” ahead for world leaders.

She told Sky News: “What we don’t want to do is repeat the mistakes of the de-industrialisation that was underway and we had the legacy of when I was growing up, when we had individuals and communities thrown onto the scrap heap.

Demonstrators carry Scottish flags at a march in support of Scottish independence, in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain June 3, 2017. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Demonstrators carried Scottish flags at a march in support of Scottish independence in 2017

“It’s about the pace and the justice of that transition. We are already in that transition and we’ve got to make sure it happens at a pace that is consistent with our net-zero ambitions.”

She added: “This is possibly the last chance the world has to do what is required to meet the Paris Agreement of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees and we have got to get a Glasgow agreement that allows this generation of leaders to look the next generation in the eye.”

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