‘I don’t know the answer!’ Nicola Sturgeon rattled in Andrew Marr independence probe

Nicola Sturgeon grilled on independence by Andrew Marr

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Nicola Sturgeon said ahead of the Scottish elections in May she wants a new referendum on Scottish independence to be held before the end of this parliamentary term in 2026. The First Minister has however maintained her focus remains on tackling the coronavirus pandemic before launching a new campaign on Scotland quitting the UK. Andrew Marr challenged Ms Sturgeon on whether she would now need to shelve her plans over concerns for the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 that forced the British Government to issue new restrictions for England.

Mr Marr said: “You have said that as soon as this epidemic crisis period is over you will turn again to the question of independence.

“Therefore, does the arrival of the new variant delay things again?”

Ms Sturgeon replied: “I don’t know the answer to that question right now.

“What I do know, and I’ve said it all along – I was elected seven months ago during an election campaign where I made this very clear.

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“For as long as necessary, steering and leading Scotland through this pandemic is my focus and my priority. 

“I made a statement in Parliament where I was very hopeful we were starting to turn the corner.

“Clearly, a few days on, the situation potentially looks very different with the arrival of this new variant.”

But the BBC presenter chipped in, saying: “You can’t tell your party yet when you’re going to have that referendum.”

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The Scottish First Minister said: “I think if I stood up in front of my party and told them that I, alone in the world, could see when this Covid pandemic was going to end, then people would look at me a bit askance.”

The SNP has continued to clamour for a new referendum on independence since the Brexit referendum in 2016.

Ms Sturgeon requested permission from Westminster to hold a new vote in 2017 but was refused.

SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford renewed calls for a new referendum in his speech to members during their virtual’s November conference on Sunday.

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Mr Blackford said: “Independence is now the pathway to safety and stability – it offers an escape from the constant crisis of Westminster control.

“Built on the solid foundations of our own democratic decisions, independence offers the opportunity to build the post-pandemic future we all wish to see.

“The chance to build a new Scotland that finally takes its natural place amongst the nations of the world.”

A spokesman for the British Government responded to the comment saying: “This is not the time for divisive constitutional arguments.

“Now, more than ever, people in Scotland want to see the UK and Scottish governments working together to protect lives, jobs and recover from the effects of Covid-19 on our economy and public services.”

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