A SECOND independence referendum should be held before 2019 to preserve Scotland’s place in Europe, the SNP conference will be told.
Delegates are expected to back a resolution tomorrow saying that if no viable solution can be found allowing Scotland to remain an EU member while still part of the UK, the party should prepare for another vote on independence.
And today Toni Giugliano – who will move the resolution on behalf of the Edinburgh Western constituency branch – said the logic of the argument required the referendum to take place before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, now expected in 2019, two years after Theresa May triggers Article 50 and starts the exit negotiations.
Mr Giugliano said: “The resolution is an ultimatum to the Prime Minister demanding that Scotland should be able to stay in the EU as part of the UK and that arrangements are made to do that.
“But she has basically shut that off. During her party conference speech she made clear there would be no opt-out for anyone.”
He said a fresh referendum would have to happen before the UK leaves the EU.
“We don’t want to be in a position where we are out and have to reapply as a new state – that doesn’t make any sense.
“I’m personally calling for a referendum to take place before the UK leaves the EU, before 2019. I appreciate we need to call it when the time is right and when we can win.
“But it’s up to us to get on with that job of telling people what independence will mean on pensions, on the currency, on jobs, on Europe.
“It will need to be communicated in a stronger way than it was in 2014.”
And he said the lack of a Yes surge following the Brexit vote should not hold them back.
“Last time we started at 27-28 per cent in the polls and finished at 45,” he said. “This time we are starting at 47 to 48.
“We now have higher support for independence than at any point before, we have a membership and activist base which has never been as strong as it is now. The polling cannot be an excuse and cannot deter us from moving forward.”
Nicola Sturgeon was due to open the conference in Glasgow today with a pledge that SNP MPs will vote against the “Brexit Bill” when it come before the House of Commons next year.
She was expected to say: “That Bill will repeal the legislation that enacted our EU membership. Scotland didn’t vote for that and so neither will our MPs.”
She will add: “But we will also work to persuade others – Labour, Liberals and moderate Tories – to join us in a coalition against a hard Brexit: not just for Scotland, but for the whole UK.”