SNP president drops huge hint Sturgeon could backtrack on plan for referendum in two years

Dan Wootton grills SNP politicians on plans for Indyref2 in 2023

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Speaking at the SNP’s annual party conference, Mr Russell said a new vote on quitting the UK should only be held when “it is most likely to conclude with the victory”. Polls have shown a drop in support for independence over the past six months, with a “No” vote consistently now in the lead.

The comments the political director of the SNP Independence Unit delivered in a keynote speech suggest any legislation for a new referendum will not be tabled unless it guarantees a win for the separatists.

Speaking virtually due to the pandemic, he said: “During the autumn I hope we can devise and develop the proper staffing and organisational structure for the work [of independence], ready to rapidly go up the gears when the referendum bill enters parliament.

“Of course a decision when that is must lie with the First Minister and the Scottish Government.

“That Government, strengthened by the imaginative partnership with the Greens has much to do.

“It is delivering for Scotland across a wide range of areas.

“It must bring the final part of the referendum legislation to the Scottish Parliament at the optimum moment so as to ensure any independence referendum campaign can not only be held safely and in a way that maximises the opportunity for conversion, but also when it is most likely to conclude with the victory we have to have.”

As recently as this week polls indicated there was a lack of support for Ms Sturgeon’s independence timetable and that pro-Unionists would win.

A Survation poll published yesterday found support for remaining in the UK stood at 57 percent, with 43 percent backing independence.

It also found only 38 percent of voters believe there should be another referendum within two years.

Survation surveyed 1,040 adults aged 16 and over in Scotland between August 31 and September 1.

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The results suggest there is currently even more support for remaining in the UK now than there was in the 2014 referendum.

At the polls seven years ago Scots voted against independence by 55 percent to 45 percent.

Two days ago Ms Sturgeon announced the Scottish government was to restart work on a “detailed prospectus” for independence.

She said that she remained committed to hold a vote by 2023, “Covid permitting”.

“The case for independence is a strong one, and we will present it openly, frankly and with confidence and ambition,” the First Minister said.

“We will ensure that the choice, when it comes, is a fully informed one.

“To that end, I can confirm that the Scottish government will now restart work on the detailed prospectus that will guide the decision.”

The UK Government has suggested it will only grant consent for a new vote if polls consistently show 60 percent support for independence.

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