NICOLA Sturgeon has warned that pro-Union parties may try to rig a second independence referendum by changing the question asked in the vote.
She made the remarks after Scottish Labor leader Richard Leonard asked the First Minister whether Constitutional Affairs Secretary Michael Russell or the Electoral Commission was more neutral in setting the rules of a future independence referendum during First Minister’s Questions.
Leonard said that the Electoral Commission wanted to test question in a future independence referendum and that the Scottish Government was going against the Law Society of Scotland.
But the First Minister responded saying that the question was tested in 2014 and said that opposition members could try to “rig” the process.
In a rebuttal to Leonard, she said: “The question was tested by the Electoral Commission. And more than that, the question was tested in the reality of a referendum. And I don’t know anybody in Scotland who say anything other than that question was clear, comprehensible and completely transparent.”
She added: “It seems to me that Labor and the Tories have now realized that they will not be able to block the right of the Scottish people to choose their own future, so they are now wondering how they can rig the whole process.”
She went on: “I have to be honest, I’m really struggling to keep up with Richard Leonard’s twists and turns. If I’m understanding right, he is standing up here, demanding we test a question again for a referendum that he says shouldn’t happen and he isn’t going to allow to happen. That is the first inconsistency and contradiction in his position.
“Then Richard Leonard says that the people of Scotland do not have the right to have a referendum at all, because we chose our future five years ago. The people of the United Kingdom voted on Brexit three years ago, but he supports a second Brexit referendum for the whole of the UK.
“He also seems to have missed all that has changed in the five years since the independence referendum, when people like him were telling the people of Scotland that the only way to protect their membership of the European Union was to vote against independence.”
Meanwhile at the end of FMQs one Tory MSP attempted to attack Sturgeon on how funds to deal with Brexit were being allocated to Scottish councils.
To protests from SNP MSPs Graham Simpson said the Scottish Government had so far received £93 million in Barnett consequentials for Brexit preparations.
He said around £8m of that should have gone to councils, but to date they had only received only £1.6m.
The FM responded: “No wonder Jackson Carlaw is staring at his phone right now. We should not be having to spend a single penny on Brexit preparations.
“I remind Graham Simpson that Scotland did not vote for Brexit.
“The member spoke about the £98.7m of consequentials that we have received; so far we have committed £92m of that, but the cost of Brexit will far exceed any consequentials that we have received, or no doubt will be likely to receive, from the United Kingdom Government.”
She added: “For example, we are having to cover up to £17m for Police Scotland this year as an unavoidable cost of a no-deal Brexit.
“It is shameful that a Conservative member of this Parliament gets up here and asks about the money that we are spending to prepare for the impact of a policy that his party is imposing on this country against our will. Shame on him.”
By Kathleen Nutt , Journalist