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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Abbi Garton-Crosbie

Douglas Ross accused of 'leading the charge' in denying Scottish democracy

ANGUS Robertson has accused Douglas Ross and the Tories of “leading the charge” in denying democracy in Scotland during a fiery exchange over the Supreme Court decision to block indyref2.

The Constitution Secretary answered an urgent question tabled by the Scottish Tory leader on Wednesday afternoon following the ruling, stating that the Scottish Government “accepts and respects” the decision.

Robertson also clashed with Scottish LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton who urged the Scottish Government to drop its “arrogant, tired and divisive charade”.

Meanwhile, the SNP MSP also rejected calls from Labour to support the party’s bid to oust the current Tory administration at the next General Election.

Robertson told MSPs: ”The Supreme Court was not asked to decide and cannot decide whether the Scottish Parliament should have the power to hold an independence referendum.

“Its job is to set out what the law is, in this case the devolution settlement in the Scotland Act 1998, and that is what it has done.

“The judgment makes clear how the UK constitution gives the UK Government a veto over people in Scotland's right to choose.

“So the reason that the Scottish electorate does not get its chance to offer a democratic expression is because it would impinge on Westminster sovereignty if their views were known.”

Ross twice asked why the First Minister did not attend the chamber instead of Robertson, claiming Nicola Sturgeon was only happy to speak “from behind an SNP podium as leader of the SNP”.

Robertson pointed out FMQs are held on a Thursday, and Ross could put his questions to Sturgeon then.

Ross also asked if the Scottish Government will drop its pursuit of indyref2 following the judgment.

Robertson replied: ”The position of the Scottish Government remains the same as the First Minister announced to this Parliament on the 28th of June. Nothing in this respect has changed.

“We would prefer the UK and the Scottish Government to agree to a section 30 order under the Scotland Act to allow a legal and constitutional referendum to go ahead. That is what the people have voted for.

“It's for the Scottish Conservatives to explain why they are blocking and why they are denying democracy.”

Ross claimed Unionist parties got more votes than Yes parties at the last Holyrood election, a statement that would later be fact-checked by Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer.

The Constitution Secretary attacked Ross adding that the Tories blocked devolution in 1979 and voted against the devolution settlement in the 1997 referendum.

He added: “So perhaps it's unsurprising that they are not keen on Scottish Democracy now. Blocking and denying democracy is a serious charge, and Douglas Ross and the Tories are unfortunately leading the charge.”

The National: Cole-Hamilton asked if the Scottish Government will now drop its pursuit of indyref2Cole-Hamilton asked if the Scottish Government will now drop its pursuit of indyref2

Robertson also clashed with Scottish LibDem leader Cole-Hamilton who also asked if the Scottish Government will drop its pursuit of indyref2.

Cole-Hamilton said: “Breaking up the United Kingdom simply isn't a priority for those people who are opening their bills with dread or living in pain.

“My goodness teachers are on strike tomorrow.

“Scotland needs new hope not old division. So why won’t this SNP-Green government finally focus on what matters instead of this arrogant, tired and divisive charade?”

Robertson hit back: “I know Alex Cole-Hamilton doesn't want to hear this, representing a party with only four members and the worst election result in its history, that secured that loss off the back of opposition to an independence referendum.

“Maybe he should listen to the electorate because what the electorate did is indeed point at these benches, these benches have the majority in this chamber.

“Benches elected with a manifesto commitment to a liberal referendum. I'm sorry the Scottish Liberal Democrats are being neither liberal nor democratic nor standing up for democracy in Scotland.”

Sarah Boyack, Scottish Labour MSP, said that there was no majority for a referendum in Scotland but also no majority for the “status quo”

She added: “So will the Cabinet Secretary agree with me that we need to get rid of this economically incompetent and morally bankrupt Tory government and will he agree with me the best way to do that would be to help elect a Labour Government across the UK?”

Robertson said simply: “What I would prefer is getting rid of unelected Tory governments in Scotland forever, and what Sarah Boyack suggests wouldn't deliver that.”

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