Nicola Sturgeon has suggested there could be “room for discussions” with leadership candidate Rishi Sunak after it was found he supports the post-Brexit indyref2 contract.
Throughout his leadership campaign thus far, Sunak has spoken about the strength of the union, but he has been criticized by fellow unionists for his lack of voice on the issue compared to his rivals.
Despite concerns from the likes of Labour’s Jackie Bailey that Sunak’s silence is “deafening”, Scottish Conservative MP Andrew Bowie has insisted that Sunak will protect the union if he becomes the next prime minister.
At the launch of the upcoming independence paper on Thursday, Sturgeon was asked if she would be willing to negotiate indyref2’s plans with the next prime minister.
“I noticed in the media this morning comments by Rishi Sunak some time ago saying that Scotland should have the right to a post-Brexit referendum,” she told reporters.
“Okay, this is post-Brexit, so maybe if he’s going to stick to what he said before, there might be room for discussions there. If he emerges as a winner – which is based on the events of the last 24 hours I don’t think it’s certain anyway. “.
Sunak currently has the support of the largest number of MPs, but polls indicate that Benny Mordaunt will beat him to the highest position when the membership vote comes out.
Sturgeons are hoping for another independence referendum in October 2023, if the Supreme Court finds Holyrood’s legislation on it without the consent of the UK government is lawful.
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If the judges rule against the Scottish government, the next general election will be used as a de facto referendum.
In another discussion of the idea of a settlement with the next prime minister, the head of the SNP continued: “In principle, yes in terms of details, I will be open to negotiation and in any negotiations you should be prepared to make concessions.
“What I will not compromise is the principle that the people of Scotland should have the opportunity to vote and express their views on independence.”
She added that if Johnson’s replacement was open to talking about granting a Section 30 order – which she believes remains the best option – she is open to compromising with them to reach an agreement.
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“I have determined the path I want to take, this is the path I will follow,” she said. I will not begin to speculate on the opinions of a Prime Minister whose identity I do not yet know.
“That’s the path I set. If someone wants to come up to me and say look, we’ll have the Section 30 request, and here’s the negotiation we want, of course I’ll listen to that but I set a path.”
When asked about her opinions on the remaining leadership candidates, Sturgeon said: “They all look really bad to me.
“None of them seem to have anything to offer Scotland except to deny democracy.”