2022 should be '˜earliest date for Scottish independence ballot'

A second independence referendum should not take place until at least 2022, according to former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars.

Sunday, 15th October 2017, 3:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 4:52 am
Despite campaigns for independence, 2022 should be the earliest date for a ballot says Jim Sillars.
Despite campaigns for independence, 2022 should be the earliest date for a ballot says Jim Sillars.

The veteran politician, who has been a vocal critic of Nicola Sturgeon’s call for an earlier vote, said the UK’s Brexit deal must be assessed in detail first.

He told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme: “I’m for a second independence referendum but you cannot actually have one sensibly until you know exactly what the Brexit deal is in detail and then take time to assess it and take time to actually formulate an argument for independence.

“We’re in a new paradigm.

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“What was in 2014 will no longer be the case when we Brexit, so we have to have a new thinking of the structure which we put to the Scottish people.”

He said a post-mortem was also needed to assess what went wrong when the Yes movement lost the 2014 referendum.

“You’re probably ‘22, ‘23 (2022/2023) before you actually have the referendum,” he added.

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Earlier this month Mr Sillars accused Ms Sturgeon of ‘’monumental political misjudgement’’ over her decision to link a second independence ballot to the issue of Brexit.

The First Minister called for Scotland to be given a second vote on leaving the UK when the terms of Britain’s EU departure deal are known, proposing a timetable of between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

Although she has since delayed her plans to introduce legislation, she indicated a second referendum is still likely before the end of the current Scottish Parliament in 2021.

Mr Sillars said he wanted to see Ms Sturgeon “improve”, suggesting she was being kept on as SNP leader because there are no worthy candidates to replace her.

He told the programme: “Suppose Nicola was knocked over by a bus this afternoon, where are the candidates of the necessary stature to take over the leadership of the SNP?

“She’s what we’ve got at the present time and I would like to see her improve.”

“If there was someone better around who had the intellectual capability to understand that you’ve got analyse things first before you take a decision, yes I think she should step aside.

“But there’s no-one there at the moment.”