SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has refused to rule out a third referendum on leaving the UK if she loses a second one, or to respect a moratorium on fresh referendums for a fixed period.
The First Minister was asked whether, “If there was a second vote, should it apply for a minimum period of time; for a generation; 25, 30 years?” by an audience member at a special Q&A edition of BBC Question Time for the general election.
But the former solicitor said: “I don’t think it’s right for any politician to dictate to a country what its future should be. I think that should be a choice for the people of Scotland” – to groans and jeers from the studio audience.
— Cllr Scott Arthur (@CllrScottArthur) June 6, 2017
Prior to the 2014 referendum, in which Scots backed preserving the United Kingdom by a decisive margin, the 46-year-old MSP insisted “the SNP have always said that in our view these kinds of referendums are once in a generation events”.
She added: “This is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity for Scotland and I hope we seize that opportunity.”
The Scottish Labour Party was able to compile a montage of the First Minister describing the previous referendum as either a “once in a generation” or “once in a lifetime” event on at least eight separate occasions prior to the General Election in 2015.
— Jamie Greene MSP (@jamiegreeneUK) March 13, 2017
However, following Britain’s vote to Leave the European Union on June 23rd, 2016, she was able to squeak through a vote in favour of a second referendum in the Scottish Parliament, with the support of the Green Party.
Sturgeon claims Brexit represents a fundamental change, and the EU Single Market is so important to the Scottish economy, that Scots must be given the right to leave the UK and pursue rejoining the EU – although figures appear to suggest the British Single Market is roughly four times more important.
Scotland's strongest trading relationship is with the rest of the UK. pic.twitter.com/68ePtdLDT0
— UK Gov Scotland (@UKGovScotland) March 21, 2017
Sturgeon’s predecessor as SNP leader, Gordon MP Alex Salmond, made it clear what he meant by “once in a generation” in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show whilst he was leading the ‘Yes’ campaign in 2014.
“What I mean is, if you remember the previous constitutional referendum [on establishing a Scottish Parliament], there was one in 1979; the next one was 1997. That’s what I mean by a political generation.”