Sturgeon: SNP MPs would vote for new Brexit referendum
October 7, 2018
SNP MPs would back a new Brexit referendum if it were put to them, party leader Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Campaigners have been pressing for a fresh vote on whatever exit plans result from talks with EU leaders.
Labour has not ruled out supporting a so-called People’s Vote, and some Tory MPs back the idea, although it has been ruled out by Theresa May.
Ms Sturgeon said SNP MPs would oppose anything short of staying in the single market and customs union.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show ahead of the opening of the SNP conference in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, said her party would oppose anything short of membership of the EU single market and customs union – both of which have been ruled out by Downing Street.
The UK was heading for a “cobbled together” exit agreement, she said, which would be “almost as unacceptable as no deal at all”.
She said MPs would come together to avoid a “fire or frying pan” situation.
Ms Sturgeon predicted any deal brought back from Brussels would be a “fudge”, which would be almost as bad as no deal at all.
“I think in those circumstances, sensible MPs of all parties should come together to look at the alternative,” she said.
“No doubt calls for a second referendum would grow in those circumstances, and I’ve said before we wouldn’t stand in the way of a second referendum. I think SNP MPs would undoubtedly vote for that proposition.”
Analysis by BBC political correspondent Nick Eardley
In an age of political shocks, Nicola Sturgeon backing a new EU referendum won’t count as one of the biggest.
The party had always said it was open to the idea, even if it still has concerns you could end up with another situation where Scotland votes Remain, but ends up bound by a UK-wide result.
It makes the SNP – with its 35 MPs – the biggest party in Parliament to back a so-called “people’s vote”.
But the Commons numbers who have committed to supporting one still remain a small minority.
The government has ruled one out. Labour says it’s still an option – but it isn’t their preference.
So campaigners who want the public to have its say on the final deal still have a lot of work to do if they are to get their wish.
Dogs join Brexit march
The People’s Vote campaign, however, insists the final Brexit deal should be put to a referendum, and on Sunday hundreds of dog-owners – and their pets – marched through central London to make their point.
Actor Peter Egan and Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy were among those who spoke at the rally, which ended in Parliament Square.
People’s Vote campaigner and former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who brought his five-month-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy to the march, claimed politicians were “scared” of another referendum.
The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, but negotiations on an exit agreement have been bogged down over the future of the Irish border and the future financial relationship.
Both sides have been making contingency plans in the event of no deal being reached, but Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney told Sky News the chances of getting an exit agreement were “good”.
Talks on this element were about 90% completed, he said, predicting a “bumpy ride” but adding: “I think it can be done.”
The UK and the EU had hoped to finalise this so-called divorce agreement and agree a statement on future economic co-operation at an EU summit on 17 October, but EU officials say it may be November before a deal can be reached.
This would then be put to MPs in a vote at Westminster, as well as being ratified by the remaining EU member states.
SNP conference begins
Thousands of delegates are gathering at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow for the SNP conference, which will include motions on reusable plastic, compulsory CPR training in schools and the devolution of migration policy.
There will be no discussion of independence or a second referendum in the main conference hall – although both will feature at fringe events and in speeches from party figures including deputy leader Keith Brown and Westminster group leader Ian Blackford.
Speaking to Andrew Marr, Ms Sturgeon repeated that she would set out her views on the prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum once there is clarity about Brexit.
She previously called for another vote on independence immediately after the EU referendum in 2016, but her plan was temporarily shelved after the SNP lost 21 seats in last year’s general election.
Speaking at the party conference on Sunday, Joanna Cherry MP said Scotland would not necessarily have to have a second independence referendum to leave the United Kingdom.
The SNP’s home affairs spokeswoman at Westminster suggested independence could be achieved through a “democratic event”, like a general election.
She also indicated her party could demand a second vote on independence as the price of supporting Labour if Jeremy Corbyn ousted Theresa May from Downing Street but failed to win an overall majority.
This directly contradicts a statement by Ms Sturgeon in July, when she said that “issues of self-determination must ultimately be addressed through democratic referendums”.
Tens of thousands of independence supporters marched through Edinburgh on Saturday in the latest in a series of rallies aimed at ramping up pressure for a second referendum to be held.
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