Politics

Brexit on steroids! Nicola Sturgeon told to drop independence obsession and focus on Scots

Willie Rennie claims Lib Dems 'ready to win' in Scottish election

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Veteran Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael urged the Scottish First Minister not to put “her party’s” interests first as he claimed Scottish independence would be like “Brexit on steroids”. Ms Sturgeon has insisted she has an “unarguable mandate” to hold a second vote on Scottish independence.

She sought to use her speech at the SNP national conference to restate her intention to hold another independence referendum when the coronavirus crisis is past.

The SNP won its fourth consecutive term in power at Holyrood in May’s Scottish elections, and Ms Sturgeon insisted that that victory “represents an unarguable mandate to implement the manifesto we put before the country”.

Party chiefs wish to hold a second referendum before the end of 2023.

But the Orkney and Shetland MP during the Lib Dem Conference compared the SNP’s push for a second independence vote to be “pretty much the same” as the Conservatives pursuit of Brexit in Westminster.

Mr Carmichael added: “They are both good examples of political parties with a nationalist, populist bent determined to pursue the party interest rather than the national interest.”

Speaking to journalists during the event which takes place this weekend, Mr Carmichael continued: “It doesn’t matter what the question is, they always manage to bring it back to independence.

“I think it is quite remarkable – and I think Nicola Sturgeon knows this herself – to think that we are going to be past the challenges of Covid in the next few months or even the next couple of years.

“We are going to be facing the long tail of Covid for possibly up to a decade and, really, that should be the priority of governments in Holyrood, in Westminster, in Belfast and in Cardiff.

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“I think Nicola Sturgeon knows that herself, but she also knows that if she were ever actually to level with her own party and the zealots in the party activist base, then they would consume her.

“So that’s why she keeps talking about this, but the challenge for Nicola Sturgeon, eventually, will be does she do the right thing for the country – as you might have hoped a nationalist might – or else, is she just going to keep pursuing a party interest?”

Mr Carmichael’s speech on the opening day of the Lib Dem conference also accused Home Secretary Priti Patel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of a “cruel and selfish” approach towards refugees fleeing Afghanistan.

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Calling for the “arbitrary salary threshold” of £25,000 for unskilled workers to be scrapped, Mr Carmichael also slated Ms Patel’s “foolishness of introducing a new immigration system in the middle of a global pandemic”.

The SNP has been approached for comment.

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