Scottish Independence: ‘Referendum preparations have restarted amid Covid recovery’, says John Swinney

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Swinney’s comments come after the Prime Minister said she would set a legislative timetable for an independence referendum in the coming weeks.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme, Swinney said it was “right” to present preparations to allow the people of Scotland to decide their “constitutional future”.

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The Deputy Prime Minister said: “What we have said all along is that when we come out of the intensity of Covid we will start preparations for the independence referendum and that is exactly what the government has done.

John Swinney spoke to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland on Monday following the relaxation of restrictions (Photo: Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA Wire).

“We made the sensible decision in March 2020 to stop all preparations for an Independence Referendum despite being mandated to do so.

“We are now in a position where we are in a much better situation. We have very modest measures left to protect against covid.”

Swinney said the Prime Minister has made it clear that she will outline preparations for a referendum to take place before the end of 2023.

He added: “Obviously there are a variety of protocols that we need to follow, which allows for the passage of legislation to take place in sufficient time for the public to understand it before a campaign period begins.”

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Swinney said that a timetable for a period of independence campaign in the Government is currently being worked on.

The deputy prime minister said: “We have just restarted work on the preparations for independence and as soon as the details are formulated they will be shared with the public and parliament.”

Swinney acknowledged that there had been “huge upheavals” in society as a result of the virus, but said there was “a recovery underway”.

Asked if the campaign would take place before Scotland fully recovered from Covid, Swinney said: “We are recovering as we speak.

“There are business sectors that are in a stronger position today than before the pandemic.

“We see that the position on employment is strong within Scotland with unemployment at an all-time low.”

Speaking to the show on Monday, Swinney said today is a “significant moment of progress” in the fight against the virus as final restrictions in Scotland are eased.

Starting Monday, nightclubs can now reopen, while limits on indoor events, table service requirements for places that sell alcohol and one-meter social distancing will also be lifted.

Ministers have also decided not to extend the vaccine passport scheme to more hospitality settings ‘at this stage’.

However, Mr Swinney also told the show that measures such as face coverings on public transport and public places and working from home will be in place where appropriate for ‘some time to come’.

He said: “Covid is still out there. We can still see there are thousands of cases on a daily basis in Scotland.”

Swinney added that these measures are ‘sensitive’ and ‘proportionate’

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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