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Nicola Sturgeon: Boris Johnson would be ‘denying’ democracy by stopping a second Scottish independence referendum

The First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has spoken of her plans for a second Scottish independence referendum.

Speaking to Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid about Scottish independence, she said: “I do respect the result of the last referendum, that is why Scotland is not independent right now. But the poll says the opinion of people in Scotland has changed that people want the chance to look at this again and a majority of people in Scotland now support independence. Democracy cannot be a single moment in time.”

Asked if she would like a second referendum, she said: “Yes… That’s up to the people of Scotland if they want to re-elect me, on a key mandate.”

On Boris Johnson potentially refusing, she said: “This is turning democracy on its head. I am doing the old-fashioned democratic thing. I’m going to go to an election and say to the people in Scotland you give me the authority for a legal referendum on independence. It is outrageous that I am being asked to justify the position of a Prime Minister whose position is that he is going to deny democracy. I’m going to put my faith in democracy… The first thing I’m going to do is get the authority of the people of Scotland and if Boris Johnson chooses to stand in its way I’ll set out the steps we are going to take. I’m going to put my faith in democracy.”

She added politicians trying to stand in the way of democracy were often “swept away”.

“This is about democracy and the ability of the people of Scotland to decide their own future. If Boris Johnson ever finds the courage to come and speak to you perhaps you can press him on his lack of respect for democracy,” she added.

When asked why she wants to be part of the European Union but independent from the UK, she said: “It is a union of independent countries… contrast that with the UK. Scotland’s position in the UK right now means that we have no alternative but to be dragged out of the European Union against our will.”

She added independence would make “a partnership of equals” and she went on to explain that she would want a free border with England and Scotland.

Speaking about Scotland’s coronavirus death rate, she said: “It’s not the case that Scotland’s death rate, I hate that term but you’ve used it to me, is worse than England’s.”

She said the BBC took a four week period out of a nine month pandemic which created misleading statistics, but added: “Let me be clear, I don’t think there is an acceptable number of deaths”. She said she deeply regretted each and every death.

She continued: “In terms of mistakes, I have tried not to be defensive about this. I don’t think we’ve got everything right. I think earlier on, in Scotland, across the UK we perhaps treated this in the very early stages like this was a flu pandemic rather than coronavirus, perhaps that influenced some of our early decisions. I think there are other things that some people legitimately describe as mistakes, I would say it’s more about a developing knowledge about the virus, things we didn’t know then but we know now, that perhaps we should have tested more asymptomatic people earlier and I think that is part of the case in care homes.”

On the care home figures, she said: “I just again have to, not correct, but give a bit of context to the figures you’ve used… the figure is lower in Scotland than in England.”

She went on: “I don’t think it is the case that we have had more people dying in care homes than anywhere else in the UK but again, in a sense, that’s irrelevant because too many people have died. The policy in care homes in Scotland in terms of discharge was not different from the rest of the UK.”

She explained that she had had sleepless nights thinking about the elderly dying in hospital.

Asked why older patients returning to care homes were not tested before leaving, she said: “I would be the last person that ever tries to challenge the devastation of this… about testing. You ask how much did we think about it… back then, the advice, the clinical, scientific advice was less clear about testing asymptomatic people… that has changed but back then that was the position… There was guidance about isolation and making sure people weren’t coming together in care homes.”

She said if she could turn the clock back she would have done things very differently.

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