Listen up, Nicola! Scottish business chiefs pen letter ordering SNP to halt Indy bid

Indyref2: Expert discusses Nicola Sturgeon's referendum stance

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Ranging from Finance to Education, business leaders said the new Scottish Government’s priority should be recovering from the pandemic. It comes as Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is set to outline her priorities for her newly formed Government in the next fortnight as a new Holyrood term gets underway.

In the letter spearheaded by non-party business group Scottish Business UK, company chiefs stressed that civil servants’ time should be spent on schemes which “save lives and livelihoods, protecting jobs and ensuring businesses survive from COVID-19.”

The letter added: “The people of Scotland used the election to send politicians a clear and unambiguous message: the new Government has been voted into power to steer the country through the Covid-19 crisis.

“The stakes could not be higher. Scottish voters want and deserve a Scottish Government that will focus all of its energy on recovery from the pandemic – saving lives and livelihoods, protecting jobs and ensuring that businesses survive.”

The Scottish First Minister had previously ordered public officials privately to start work on a draft independence bill in the last Holyrood term.

The Scottish Independence Referendum Bill, published in March, stipulates the next Scottish Parliament should decide the timing of any referendum.

Former Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said the draft Bill was being brought forward to offer Scotland the choice of who is best placed to lead the country’s post-pandemic recovery.

The draft bill states the question asked should be the same as at the 2014 referendum – “Should Scotland be an independent country?”.

Struan Stevenson, SBUK Chief Executive, said: “The support received for this letter shows that business leaders in Scotland are of the same opinion that plans for a referendum are a huge distraction from the task at hand.

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“The Scottish Government needs to listen and stop trying to position the election result as a pretext for breaking up the UK, which is by far Scotland’s biggest market.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “As we recover from the pandemic, it’s vital that the SNP government focuses on growing the economy – not putting people’s jobs at risk.

“Referendum uncertainty is the last thing that businesses need.

“It’s important that the Scottish Government listens to these business leaders who know the terrible impact there will be on jobs if the economy is not prioritised.

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“It’s reckless for the SNP to seek to divide communities and neighbours, which is why we need a recovery for the whole UK that brings people together.”

In response, a spokesperson for First Minister, said: “The First Minister was absolutely clear throughout the election campaign, as was the SNP manifesto, that her immediate focus was on continuing to lead Scotland safely through the pandemic – but once the COVID crisis has passed people in Scotland should have the right to choose their own future, and whether to equip our parliament with the powers it needs to drive Scotland’s long-term recovery or to leave our recovery in the hands of the austerity-driven Tories.

“The SNP won the election by a landslide, with a higher share of the constituency vote than any party in the history of devolution.”


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