Nicola Sturgeon tells Boris Johnson a Scottish independence referendum is ‘matter of when - not if’

Nicola Sturgeon has told Boris Johnson another independence referendum is a “matter of when - not if”.

Nicola Sturgeon waves as she returns to Bute House on Sunday
Nicola Sturgeon waves as she returns to Bute House on Sunday

The First Minister and the Prime Minister spoke this afternoon following the SNP’s landslide victory in the Scottish election.

Ms Sturgeon claimed her priority remained focusing on the recovery, but insisted another vote was now inevitable.

A spokesperson for the First Minister said: "The First Minister spoke to the Prime Minister this afternoon, and thanked him for his congratulations on her re-election.

“The First Minister made clear that her immediate focus was on steering the country through Covid and into recovery, and that a newly elected Scottish Government would work with the UK government as far as possible on that aim.

“They also agreed the importance of the two governments working together closely and constructively to achieve a successful hosting of and outcome from COP26.

“The FM also re-iterated her intention to ensure that the people of Scotland can choose our own future when the crisis is over, and made clear that the question of a referendum is now a matter of when - not if.”

It comes after Scotland returned a majority of MSPs supporting independence to Holyrood, with 64 SNP representatives and eight from the Scottish Greens.

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Earlier today the Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove insisted that the current SNP leader “didn’t secure a majority as Alex Salmond did in 2011”, and claimed this was “a significant difference”.

He said: “Alex Salmond, when he requested a referendum, every party in the Scottish Parliament agreed that it was appropriate to have a referendum given that he had secured a majority.

“It is not the case now – as we see – that the people of Scotland are agitating for a referendum.”

The row comes after the Prime Minister invited Ms Sturgeon for crisis talks on the Union, calling for proposals from devolved leaders on how to recover from the pandemic.

In his invitation letter to Ms Sturgeon, the Prime Minister argued the UK was “best served when we work together”.

He added: “We will all have our own perspectives and ideas – and we will not always agree – but I am confident that by learning from each other we will be able to build back better, in the interests of the people we serve.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said this evening: “This afternoon, the Prime Minister spoke to the First Minister of Scotland to congratulate her on her party’s success, having secured the largest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament.“They both agreed that their immediate focus should be and is on working together to build back from the pandemic. The Prime Minister stressed how recovery will be more effective if both Governments work together and reiterated his invitation for the First Minister to join a summit meeting to discuss our shared challenges on covid recovery and how we can overcome them.“The Prime Minister also discussed other areas of shared interest as a strong United Kingdom, including setting the green agenda and the COP26 Summit in Glasgow.“The Prime Minister concluded by emphasising the importance of focusing on covid recovery at this time.”

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