Scotland politics

Sturgeon: Indyref2 'need not be divisive'

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted to give voters clear information on key issues such as the currency of an independent Scotland

A second independence referendum on Scottish independence need not be divisive, the first minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon said she would make her case with "courtesy and respect" for those with different views.

In a speech she said her proposed timetable for a referendum would allow voters to make an informed choice.

Opposition parties said the SNP should focus on the job of government and respect the outcome of the 2014 referendum.

Theresa May has dismissed Ms Sturgeon's call for an independence vote in the autumn of next year or spring 2019, saying "now is not the time" for a referendum, while her government negotiates the best possible Brexit deal for the whole of the UK.

But the first minister said the terms of the Brexit deal should be clear by then, and she promised to give voters clear information on key issues such as what currency an independent Scotland would adopt.

'Detail and clarity'

Addressing the Political Studies Association annual conference in Glasgow, she said: "Well before the referendum debate the Scottish government will also set out proposals for what an independent Scotland would look like, we will address issues such as the currency, our plans for fiscal stability and the process of securing our relationship with Europe in future.

"And we will do all of that with as much detail and clarity as possible."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prime Minister Theresa May says "now is not the time" for a second Scottish independence referendum

With Scotland again facing "a time of intense political debate", the first minister argued a second referendum would not necessarily split the country.

"Campaigns and politics are only divisive if we make them so, and we should be determined, all of us, not to make it so," she said.

She added: "As first minister, I have a responsibility to lead by example. After all, the Scottish government has a special responsibility to build consensus where we can.

"So I will do my best to ensure that at all times we make our case not just with passion and conviction, but with courtesy, empathy and respect. I hope very much that all politicians will do the same."

'Living in dreamland'

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said the first minister seemed "unable to accept that a majority of Scots simply do not want another referendum".

"The last thing Scotland needs right now is a divisive and unwarranted referendum. Instead it needs a Scottish government that gets on with the job it was elected to do, such as addressing the many problems facing our schools, hospitals and the economy," he said.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale also said Ms Sturgeon should focus on the business on government.

She said: "Instead of constantly seeking to divide the country, the SNP should focus on the job of governing - tackling the crisis in our schools, fixing our broken NHS, and investing in local services."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "Families and communities across Scotland are still damaged by the division of the last independence referendum.

"The first minister is living in dreamland if she thinks another one would be positive for Scotland."