Sturgeon branded an opportunist hellbent on destroying UK with ugly separatist creed

Alberto Costa says 'separatism' leads to society losing its strength

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Glasgow-born Alberto Costa, the Conservative member for South Leicestershire, was commenting on Ms Sturgeon’s push for a referendum on the question of Scottish independence next year – nine years after the last one. First Minister Ms Sturgeon unveiled her plans on June 28, saying: “My determination is to secure a process that allows the people of Scotland – whether yes, no, or yet to be decided – to express their views in a legal, constitutional referendum, so that the majority view can be established fairly and democratically.”

However, Mr Costa sought to pour cold water on the idea, reminding Ms Sturgeon about the context in which the 2014 vote was held, especially in the wake of the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week, which is likely to embolden the SNP leader.

He said: “Is Nicola Sturgeon a political opportunist? Undoubtedly, and there’s no surprise there. There’s no shock whatsoever.

“Her raison d’etre is not just separating Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom because there would be no United Kingdom without Scotland, and this is another fallacy. It’s about breaking up Britain.”

He warned: “Nichola Sturgeon is a separatist, and separatism is an ugly creed that leads to division, it leads to a society losing its strength.

“Britain is a global leader, is respected across the world, for the values that we have by being one family of nations, one sovereign country.

“I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that the next leader of the Conservative Party, the next Prime Minister, orders their own commitment to strengthening and safeguarding the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

The race is now on to replace Mr Johnson as leader – and Mr Costa had a pointed message for the 11 people who have so far declared their candidacies.

He said: “I think the new Prime Minister must respect the Edinburgh Agreement and the comments made by both parties to that agreement, the political declarations that were made, that that referendum was given to the Scottish people, for the Scottish people, to ultimately make this decision. And I think the Prime Minister must respect the fact that it was a once-in-a-lifetime decision.

“Now you can debate what that means in terms of, is it 50 years, is it 35 years? There’s certainly a debate to be had potentially there on the timescale of what once-in-a-lifetime means.”

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For Scottish people and indeed, everyone else in the UK, it was crucial to preserve the integrity of the process which had led to Scotland opting to stay a part of the union, Mr Costa insisted.

He added: “We’re not a country that just gives people referenda one after the other if you don’t like the first choice, you give them again and again and again until one of the parties gets the choice that they want – that would make a farce of democracy.

“Democracy isn’t just about the vote, the way Nicola Sturgeon keeps going on about, it’s also about consent.

“We have a monarchy in our country because the people consent to that, they continue to consent so that is democratic and legitimate.

“We don’t vote for judges, we don’t vote for the police, they police by consent. So consent is part of democracy. People at Scotland consented to have that, as the people of Britain consented to have that referendum.

“We must respect the outcome of the 2014 referendum and I will be asking any of the leadership candidates, all of them, to make sure that they respect the outcome for a generation.”

Nicola Sturgeon said last month another vote would be held on October 19, 2023 and Scotland’s top law officer has referred a Bill to the UK Supreme Court in a bid to ensure any attempt by the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a referendum was within its powers.

However, speaking on Sunday (10 July), Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid, who are both seeking the Tory leadership, said it should be at least 10 years before another referendum was held.

When asked on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme if he would allow another referendum, Jeremy Hunt said: “Not in the next 10 years.”

Mr Javid, responding to the same question in a later interview, said: “The last one was for a generation and the generation hasn’t changed, so no. Not forever, but not at least for a decade.”

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