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HomeNewsScottish Independence Push Doubtful After Sturgeon's Emotional Exit

Scottish Independence Push Doubtful After Sturgeon’s Emotional Exit

Scottish Independence Push Doubtful After Sturgeon’s Emotional Exit

The unexpected resignation of Nicola Sturgeon as the first minister has cast doubt on the future of Scottish independence, with opposition parties proclaiming the SNP’s cause “dead.”

At a press conference on Wednesday, the SNP leader announced her resignation, lamenting the “brutal” nature of politics and stating that she knew “in my head and my heart” that it was the right time to step down.

Ms. Sturgeon has been criticized for stating that her party would fight the next general election as a de facto referendum on Scottish independence – an issue on which she said the SNP was now “free” to pursue in the wake of her departure.

However, Labour insiders asserted that her resignation would give their party a chance to reclaim up to 20 seats in Scotland, where it was nearly wiped out just eight years ago, and boost Sir Keir Starmer’s chances of winning a majority in the 2024 general election.

Ms. Sturgeon insisted that her decision to resign was “not a reaction to short-term pressures” – which include major controversies over her gender self-identification reforms and the housing of trans prisoners – but rather the result of “a deeper and longer-term assessment.”

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The SNP leader stated that she had been “wrestling” with the decision to resign for weeks, citing the “physical and mental impact” of leading the country for the past eight years.

Ms. Sturgeon stated that she would not express an opinion regarding her successor as she announced that an SNP leadership contest would be held in the coming weeks. Senior MSPs Angus Robertson, Kate Forbes, and Humza Yousaf are the frontrunners to succeed her.

The SNP leader has had a difficult few months, losing a legal bid to hold a second independence referendum after the Supreme Court ruled in November that the Scottish parliament could not legally legislate on the matter.

She was heavily criticized for her initial pledge to make the upcoming general election a de facto referendum on Scottish independence. Recent polls indicated that two-thirds of Scots opposed the proposal, and Unionist parties accused her of being “out of touch” with public opinion.

Last month, the SNP leader dismayed many nationalists by abandoning the pledge and announcing that the issue would be discussed at a special conference in March.

Ms. Sturgeon stated on Wednesday, “I believe I have brought this nation closer to its independence… I am confident that my successor, whoever he or she may be, will lead Scotland to independence, and I will be there to cheer him or her on every step of the way.”

Senior Labour figures believe that her departure has hampered the independence movement, and they hope to reclaim up to 20 seats in Scotland at the 2024 election – a performance that could make the difference between a hung parliament and a clear majority.

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A Labour source told The Independent, “It is evident that another independence referendum is dead, and that the first minister’s strategy hastened its demise.” It was never a priority for the vast majority of Scots, and we will continue to focus on the issues that matter most and electing a Labour government in the United Kingdom.

Alex Salmond, Ms. Sturgeon’s predecessor, warned that the SNP was “left without a clear strategy for independence” and a clear successor, while political experts said that the push for a second referendum on separation had been left in short-term “disarray.”

George Foulkes, a Labour peer, told The Independent, “I believe her departure diminishes the chances of the SNP moving the dial on independence.” I cannot see anyone succeeding Sturgeon with his charisma.”

The former Labour MSP and minister of the Scotland Office added, “It gives Labour a better chance in Scotland, although colleagues will not want to get too excited.” It wouldn’t take much for us to perform well and win a significant number of seats.”

Andy Maciver, the former media chief for the Scottish Tories, cautioned Labour and the other unionist parties against overreacting to Ms. Sturgeon’s departure. “It could leave the independence strategy in a state of disarray in the short term, as they will argue publicly about the way forward,” he said.

“However, the SNP has time to resolve the issue,” Mr. Maciver added. “Labour has the opportunity to offer a different perspective on the constitutional argument. However, they must seize this opportunity, as recent reform proposals from Gordon Brown were extremely timid.”

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Jack McConnell, the former Labour first minister of Scotland, also cautioned against complacency about independence. “Those who are gloating today should calm down a bit,” he said to The Independent. “We must all raise our game. The other parties’ responses to the 2014 referendum result were negative. Are Labour and other parties willing to outline an ambitious agenda for Scotland?

Douglas Ross MSP, leader of the Scottish Tories, said he was “glad” Ms. Sturgeon was leaving, stating that she had “refused to accept the result” of the 2014 referendum and spent the years since “relentlessly campaigning” for another vote.

Scottish secretary Alister Jack stated that her departure “provides a welcome opportunity for the Scottish government to change course and abandon its divisive fixation on independence.”

Stephen Flynn, the leader of the SNP in Westminster, described Nicola Sturgeon as “the outstanding political leader” in the United Kingdom for a generation, while Ian Blackford, the party’s former Westminster leader, described her as “the finest first minister in Scotland has ever had.”

Joanna Cherry, an SNP representative who has clashed with the leadership over the trans issue, has demanded that Ms. Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell resign as chief executive and that a “neutral caretaker” oversee the leadership contest.