Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first prime minister, on Sunday opened the door to independence by Boris Johnson early next year, saying he was “expecting” the Covid-19 to be completed by then.
The Sturgeon party in the Scottish National Party did not win a majority in the by-elections in the 129-seat Holyrood by-elections, but said its victory of 64 people represented a strong victory.
With the help of the independent Greens, with eight seats, there is a new parliament for the second Scottish referendum separate from the rest of the UK.
Sturgeon, speaking on the BBC program Andrew Marr, reiterated his promise to call for re-election in 2014 in the first year of Parliament, if Covid-19 was ordered.
Asked if this could be achieved by the spring of 2022 – in line with what some scientists have predicted – he said: “I strongly believe the predictions are accurate.”
He said this would “immediately help” the referendum in the first phase of parliament, “and would not ban” legislation early next year. Johnson and his ministers say it will take a long time for the UK to cure the epidemic.
Johnson has said that “tearing our country apart” could be “careless and careless” and is rejecting a second independent election, which could undermine the UK’s credibility and leadership.
But Michael Gove, the caretaker prime minister responsible for maintaining the 314-year-old political alliance, was keen to avoid the idea that the UK government would use force to block the referendum.
Gove told Marr’s protest that the UK government would not go to the Supreme Court to try to restrict independence, adding: “We are not getting close to that.”
Under the 1998 Scotland Act which established the Holyrood Parliament, the provisions of the Constitution are reserved for the UK Parliament. Johnson says Westminster should accept a second vote.
However, Gove and Johnson are anxious to avoid saying explicitly that they will use legal force. SNP John Swinney has previously accused the Prime Minister of acting as “the supreme ruler” in Scotland.
Gove, who is working at the new office in Glasgow next week, said: “The most important thing right now is not criminal justice or independent laws – they are recovering from the epidemic.”
Johnson’s government says recovery will take time. Gove described the major backgrounds of NHS operations and the importance of a “catch up” program for students as a priority.
The trick is that Sturgeon is acting recklessly by focusing more on legal issues, hoping to recapture the time when Edinburgh and Westminster will finally close their horns in the referendum.
Other parties, other than the UK government, may take action if they feel that Sturgeon is undermining his legal powers. The former prime minister has always said he favors a legal referendum, not the “wildcat” type seen in Catalonia.
Sturgeon said it would be absurd for Johnson’s government to use the courts to “defeat Scottish democracy”. Such a move results in a “very bad place”.
“The UK government is aware that if we face this in the courts, the UK government’s objection is that there is no democratic way to Scotland to stand on its own two feet,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson called on leaders of conferences held in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to attend the “Team UK” conference to discuss the recovery of the epidemic.