Pressure grows for action on Scottish independence

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The biggest ever demonstration for Scottish independence was held last weekend in Edinburgh. A sea of blue and white moved through the Scottish capital as an estimated 200,000 people marched in good cheer despite damp and windy weather conditions.

The All Under One Banner (AUOB) demo was led by hundreds of ‘Yes Bikers’ and took over three hours to pass through the centre of the Scottish capital. Neil Mackay, from AUOB, said “history was made” by the giant event.

“Not a single arrest or scene of anti-social behaviour,” he said. “Testament to the good nature and behaviour of Indy supporting Scots but also that Scottish Independence is a highly positive thing.”

The leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, is coming under increasing pressure to keep Scotland in the European Union in the face of Brexit by naming a date for a second referendum on independence. In a message to the demonstration, she said: “Be in no doubt – independence is coming.”

Ms Sturgeon has not supported suggestions that the SNP could withdraw from Westminster and declare independence, similar to the path Ireland took in 1919. She said there was “no easy or shortcut route to independence” and that a future referendum had to be “beyond any doubt in terms of its legitimacy”.

The SNP leader was speaking ahead of her party’s three-day conference, which opens in Aberdeen on Sunday afternoon. Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly said she wants to hold a second referendum on independence next year - but the move has been ruled out by the London government.

And she is facing mounting pressure from some SNP activists and MPs, as well as others in the wider independence movement, to adopt a ‘Plan B’ if consent for a referendum is not granted.

Prominent figures from the Scottish arts and academia have published their own “declaration of independence”. Their manifesto concluded: “It is our belief that the best option now open to the Scottish people is for Scotland to become an independent country.

“The alternative is to accept that Scotland’s fate would remain in the hands of others and that the Scottish people would relinquish their right to decide their own destiny.”

Meanwhile, Downing Street is too complacent about the danger of a second independence referendum, according to a senior British government official, who pointed to the strengthening trend in polling on Scottish independence.

A recent poll also found that a majority of Conservative voters in England would also prefer to press ahead with Brexit even if it led to Scottish independence and Irish reunification.

Ms Sturgeon insisted: “I have campaigned for independence all of my life. If there was an easy or shortcut route I would have taken it by now.

“We have to demonstrate majority support for independence in a process that is legal and legitimate and that crucially - not just domestically in the UK but internationally and in Europe in particular - will be accepted. That is the right way to go.”

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