SNP MP on how Ukraine crisis shows need for independence
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The SNP has insisted Scotland will hold a second independence referendum by the end of 2023 – a deadline the First Minister has doubled down on despite the Russian invasion. But the war in Ukraine has bolstered backing for the likes of NATO and rendered the “anti-Trident, left-of-centre Scottish nationalists” out-of-step with the public mood, Andrew Marr has said.
Vladimir Putin has issued nuclear threats to the West and any nation that “interferes” with Russia’s attempted takeover of Ukraine.
He said on Wednesday, April 27: “If someone intends to interfere in what is going on from the outside they must know that constitutes an unacceptable strategic threat to Russia.
“They must know that our response to counter-strikes will be lightning fast. Fast.”
With the popularity of NATO and British access to nuclear weapons transposed onto a war-time stage, the SNP’s vehemently anti-nuclear defence policy could spell the end of their renewed defence bid, Mr Marr added.
Writing in the New Statesman, the veteran political journalist described how “hostility to Trident”, the UK’s nuclear deterrent based 40 miles from Glasgow, is “woven into the modern history of the party” and into the mentality of the First Minister.
He wrote: “As the moment of decision for Sturgeon comes very close and the war in Ukraine continues, there is absolutely no chance of the SNP changing its policy on Trident, or accepting that the nuclear submarines could stay in a lease-back arrangement with the rest of the UK.
“Politicians down south who hope that some deal could be figured out simply don’t understand the SNP or its history.
“Nicola Sturgeon joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament even before she joined the SNP.
“Hostility to Trident is woven into the modern history of the party.”
The SNP says its stance on nuclear weapons is that they are “immoral, ineffective and expensive”, and the party will, therefore, “never support the retention or renewal of Trident”.
Ms Sturgeon, ahead of the 2014 vote on independence, committed to “rid” an independent Scotland “of weapons of mass destruction”.
She added: “I cannot think of any more powerful statement we can make to the world about what kind of country we will be, and what our place in the world will be.”
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Therefore, with the issue of nuclear weapons a “genuine non-negotiable” for the Scottish nationalists, this could likely be what “makes winning an independence referendum next year impossible”, Mr Marr argued.
The UK Government has refused to grant the SNP a second referendum – a power which, under the Scotland Act, is retained by Westminster.
Earlier this year, Boris Johnson said Scottish independence would be an “economic disaster”, and a second referendum is “just not going to happen”.
Mr Marr added that the nuclear stance of the SNP, in the midst of Putin’s nuclear threats and European invasion, gives the UK Government the “high ground” against the Scottish nationalists.
He said: “If Johnson and co are looking for a reason to refuse the SNP its referendum, then preventing the removal of Britain’s nuclear deterrent when Putin is using nuclear threats would be persuasive.
“It gives unionists a high-ground argument they haven’t had.”
He added: “A time of sudden Western unity, felt in Scotland as much as anywhere else, is not, you might think, an ideal time to insist on the break-up of the United Kingdom.”
Mr Marr described this crunch moment for a Sturgeon “on the rack”, where the SNP forges ahead with their independence referendum “against an international backdrop that could not be less promising”, or risk her party losing their “patience with her”.
Without Sturgeon at the helm, the SNP “would not suddenly vanish or lose its appeal”, but her disappearance would cost them its “vivifying appeal”.
He added: “Putin didn’t start a war to damage the SNP, but that’s what he’s doing.”
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