Scotland’s First Minister Ms Sturgeon launched a blistering attack against Brexit and Whitehall, accusing Theresa May’s Government of leaving constitutional conventions “in shreds”. Delivering a vitriolic speech at the Law Society of Scotland conference on two decades of devolution, Ms Sturgeon said: “20 years on from the establishment of our Parliament, we face the most important example of democratic deficit in Scotland’s post-war history.” Ms Sturgeon also claimed the UK Government has acted in the past years “in a way which pays little or no heed to Scotland’s wishes, priorities and values”.
And she accused the Tories of seeking to “deepen division rather than bring people together” in the wake of the EU referendum, claiming Downing Street “sought to interpret the result in the hardest way possible and red lines got drawn that didn’t have to be drawn”.
This attack refers to Mrs May’s red lines set out in her 2016 Tory conference speech, which swept the customs union, single market and any future role for the European Court of Justice in the UK off the table before negotiations even started.
Ms Sturgeon went on claiming the final two in the leadership contest are yet to explain how they will deliver Brexit.
She said: “I haven’t heard any detail of anything that Jeremy Hunt or Boris Johnson has said about Brexit, how they’re going to deliver it by October 31 or how they’re going to renegotiate something that the EU has said is not up for renegotiation.
“But if the recent experience of the Scottish Government dealing with Tory politicians in Westminster is anything to go by, there’s not much of what they say is either deliverable or turns out to be delivered.”
Ms Sturgeon has been trying to build up momentum for a second Scottish Independence Referendum in the past months.
One of the reasons cited by the First Minister is Brexit, which she says has been rejected by Scottish voters both on the day of the EU Referendum and at the European elections, where the SNP triumphed.
Reiterating her case for a Scottish independence, Ms Sturgeon argued it was “the best way of building a genuine partnership of equals in these islands”.
She said: “We know that our closest relationships will always be with our friends and neighbours in the United Kingdom so that willingness to co-operate will continue regardless of our future constitutional status but that co-operation – if it is to be effective – must be on the basis of mutual agreement and consent.
“Obviously I have no objections to people who are against independence, everybody who is against independence is absolutely entitled to argue that, whether that is Theresa May or David Cameron or Jeremy Hunt or Boris Johnson.
“Where I take issue is the idea that it is for them – or indeed for me – to decide Scotland’s future, it should be for the Scottish people to decide our future.”
Asked about whether there should be a threshold on any future referendum, Ms Sturgeon said: “I don’t take the view that that should be a requirement – the narrowness of the Brexit result absolutely has been a factor in what’s come since but I don’t think what has happened since the Brexit vote has been in any way inevitable.
“I think a basic tenet of democracy – how we take decisions – is by a majority vote.
“I don’t think that the mess that Brexit has become was inevitable, even with the narrowness of the result.”