The Scottish Government’s official position is to hold indyref2 this year, new documents have revealed.
A Freedom of Information response shows that SNP constitution minister Mike Russell told foreign government officials at a private meeting in early November that he wanted a second referendum “by end 2021.”
Russell’s meeting took place on 10 November, just eight weeks ago.
Days later, on 17 November, Nicola Sturgeon announced 11 council areas would go into tier 4.
Douglas Ross has said the First Minister must distance the government from Russell’s comments and announce that the SNP Government’s position is no longer to hold indyref2 this year.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “In her BBC statements, Nicola Sturgeon puts on a false face and pretends to have paused her indyref2 campaign but the SNP’s constitution minister let slip the reality to overseas officials.
“This document shows that while virus rates increase rapidly, the SNP Government’s official position is to hold indyref2 in 2021. Nothing could be more reckless when our entire focus should be on fighting the pandemic.
“Nicola Sturgeon’s self-declared cautious approach obviously doesn’t apply to a second independence referendum. When that’s the topic, she abandons sense in a heartbeat.
“A responsible First Minister would today denounce her constitution minister’s comments and confirm her government has u-turned and will no longer push for a second independence referendum this year, to get all the focus back on to the fight against Covid-19.”
The FOI response is attached. The relevant section is document three on page five.
Minutes of a meeting between Mike Russell, the Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, Europe and External Affairs, and the Australian High Commissioner, George Brandis QC, on 10 November 2020 state: “George Brandis [GB] enquired about the proposed timing of the referendum post the Scottish election. Mike Russell [MR] confirmed he would hope a second referendum could be held by end 2021.”