Brexit

MP urges SNP leaders to make case for a second vote on Scottish independence

Angus MacNeil has called on the party's leadership to drop calls for a second European referendum and instead put the case for a fresh vote on Scottish independence
By Katrine Bussey, Political Editor, Press Association Scotland

A LEADING SNP MP has called on the party's leadership to drop calls for a second European referendum and instead put the case for a fresh vote on Scottish independence to the "fore".

Angus MacNeil made the plea in the wake of former first minister Alex Salmond urging Nicola Sturgeon to put an end to the "uncivil war" within the SNP and focus on making the case for leaving the UK.

Mr Salmond told his successor that with Theresa May struggling to get her Brexit plans through the House of Commons, there is "not likely to be a better time to force the issue" of independence.

Mr MacNeil, who has represented the Western Isles since 2005, retweeted the findings of a poll that showed the majority of Britons are opposed to a second Brexit referendum – something Ms Sturgeon and the SNP leadership have been calling for.

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A Sky News data national poll indicated 44 per cent of people think there should be another vote on leaving the European Union, with 56 per cent against this.

Mr MacNeil tweeted: "Oh well @theSNP you tried but #EuroRef2 not wanted... So now it is the referendum with the mandate #Indyref2 to come to fore... Change in media strategy now?"

The SNP won the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections on a manifesto that explicitly stated there should be a fresh vote on independence if there was a material change in circumstances from the 2014 referendum – making clear this should be the case if Scotland was removed from the EU against its people's wishes.

Ms Sturgeon has already pledged she will make her views known on the possible timing of a second independence referendum in a "matter of weeks".

However, the first minister is facing questions in the wake of Mr Salmond's legal victory against the Scottish government, after the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled its handling of sexual misconduct allegations against the former SNP leader to be "unlawful".

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The allegations – which are strenuously denied by Mr Salmond – have caused a split within the party which he led for 20 years.

Mr MacNeil's call comes as Scottish Brexit minister Mike Russell meets European leaders in Brussels to assert the devolved government's desire to remain within the EU.

The MSP arrived in Zebrugge, Belgium yesterday to learn more about the impact of a no-deal Brexit. He is due to to meet MEPs in Brussels today.

Ahead of the discussions, Mr Russell said: "Amid the Brexit chaos unfolding at Westminster it must be remembered that a decisive majority of people in Scotland voted to remain within the European Union and the Scottish government is determined to do all we can to ensure their wishes are respected.

"It is unacceptable for the views of people in Scotland to be continually ignored by the UK Government and I will be setting out today that the Scottish Government believes the best outcome for both Scotland and the UK is to retain EU membership.

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