Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum “framework” bill is an attempt to lay the ground for a “wildcat” vote on independence, the Scottish Conservatives have said.
Her bid to legislate for a referendum re-run was tabled in Holyrood today, with the SNP reaffirming its commitment to holding another vote within 18 months.
However, the detail of the legislation has been criticised after it emerged it would give SNP ministers themselves the power to set the terms and timings of a referendum, over-riding both the UK and Scottish Parliaments.
It has also been pointed out that the nationalists would not need to seek the consent of the Electoral Commission for the wording of a second referendum under the terms of this proposed law.
Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said:
“In reality, this is Nicola Sturgeon laying the ground for a ‘wildcat’ second referendum on independence.
“The tabling of this legislation is merely another opportunity to allow the First Minister to talk about her pet obsession with the break-up of Britain.
“Under this bill, SNP ministers would have the power to set any referendum question, at any time, on any matter of their choosing. It’s a power grab on an industrial scale.
“It would be nationalist ministers – not the Scottish Parliament – who would set the question, pick the date, and determine the campaign period.
“It’s not about the democracy of letting people decide in a lawful referendum – it’s about the diktat of an independence-obsessed First Minister.”