The Scottish First Minister was holding a press conference to discuss the possibility of a second Scottish referendum. She was answering questions ahead of the release of the first of a series of Government papers detailing how a second vote would work without support from Westminster. She spoke at length about the Northern Ireland protocol, suggesting that it has had “enormous benefits” for the nation, before labelling the UK Government’s position on the protocol “absurd”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I have said very clearly there will be customs and regulatory issues on trade if we are in the single market.
“I think the benefits of being in the single market outweigh the challenges there, though.
“This is the absurdity, or one of the many absurdities, with the UK Government position over the Northern Ireland protocol.
“Right now, the protocol, which is effectively allowing Northern Ireland to trade within the single market while continuing to trade with the rest of the UK, has enormous benefits.
“And we can see that. The Northern Irish economy is doing better than any other part of the UK.
“So this is not about shying away from these issues. It’s about saying these issues are not insurmountable if you come about them the right way.”
A reporter in the press conference then said: “You have shied away from the word border and the word checks, though.”
Ms Sturgeon responded: “I have perhaps shied away from giving you an easy headline but I think everybody listening will hear what I’m saying.”
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Ms Sturgeon is due to publish a new paper today designed to form an updated prospectus for independence.
It is part of a series of papers that have been described as the “scene setters” for another referendum vote, which Ms Sturgeon has promised will take place before the end of 2023.
The question of how another referendum could be held without Westminster’s support is crucial as it would be unprecedented.
Ahead of the paper, former first minister Alex Salmond challenged his successor to reveal how she will “bend Westminster to the will of the Scottish Parliament”.
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Mr Salmond said: “Everyone across the Yes movement is galvanised by the fact that the starting gun has been fired on another independence test.
“It is welcome to see Government documents proclaiming the case for independence but it is also crucial that the SNP/Green coalition articulate a clear pathway and timetable towards that day of decision.”
He argued that “the energy of the independence debate of 2014 came from the setting of the date of September 18. The SNP/Green coalition have promised another referendum in 2023 with ‘no ifs or buts’.
“The Yes movement will take them at their word, and they therefore should also explain the strategy by which they intend to bend Westminster to the will of the Scottish Parliament to agree a referendum or indeed spell out another way of asserting the sovereignty of the Scottish people.
“Without that we run the risk of conducting a debate in a constitutional vacuum.”