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Scottish independence ‘within touching distance’

A win for Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson meant a future where Scotland got “ripped out of our European family of nations against our will”, Sturgeon said.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon claims independence is "within touching distance" at a major rally in Glasgow.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon claims independence is “within touching distance” at a major rally in Glasgow. Credit:Getty

Neither would a Labour government be a better option for Scotland. The much better alternative would be to become an independent country, Sturgeon said.

“An independent Scotland is closer than it has ever been,” Sturgeon wrote in a statement released hours before the start of Saturday’s rally. “It really is within touching distance.”

She called on voters to cast their ballots for the SNP and thereby strengthen Scotland’s position.

On Friday, Sturgeon said she would request a new referendum on independence from London before the end of December.

Last week, the British parliament passed legislation calling for an early general election on December 12. Johnson demanded the vote to break a political stalemate over the Brexit deal he hammered out with Brussels.

In Scotland’s first independence referendum in 2014, 55 per cent voted against a split from Britain.

During the Brexit referendum of 2016, a clear majority (62 per cent) of Scottish voters were in favour of remaining in the European Union – a fact that led many to call for a new referendum on independence.

PM Johnson has drawn an angry backlash from Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage after he rejected calls to drop his Brexit deal and embrace a clean break from the European Union, potentially splitting the eurosceptic vote.

Johnson had previously pledged to take Britain out of the EU with or without a deal on October 31 before MPs voted to force him to seek an extension until January 31.

Independence hopes burn bright as independence supporters gather at a rally in Glasgow, Scotland.

Independence hopes burn bright as independence supporters gather at a rally in Glasgow, Scotland. Credit:Getty

But he has abandoned the threat of a no-deal Brexit in his Conservative Party’s manifesto for the December 12 election, the Times newspaper reported on Saturday. It added that the focus would be on getting his Brexit deal approved.

On Friday, Johnson rejected a call from the Brexit Party to drop the deal he negotiated with the European Union last month in order to form a new electoral pact, saying that he could put his deal through parliament after any election win.

“What we’ve got is a fantastic deal that nobody thought we could get,” Johnson said. “As soon as we get back in the middle of December, we can put that deal through.”

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses Independence supporters.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses Independence supporters.Credit:Getty

In Britain’s tortuous journey since the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU, businesses and economists have cautioned that leaving the bloc without a deal to smooth the transition would hurt the British economy.

Proponents of a no-deal Brexit say it provides a clean break from EU rules and regulations.

“If The Times are right and Boris Johnson will abandon a clean break Brexit, and he wins an election on this, we will never be free of EU rules,” Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage said in a tweet on Saturday.

“The deal is simply not Brexit and does not get Brexit done.”

The Conservative manifesto will also not include a commitment to a fiscal rule, the Times reported, relaxing the government’s grip on public finances. The party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The government’s previous fiscal rule pledged to hold the underlying budget deficit below 2 per cent of the country’s economic output in the 2020/21 financial year.

DPA, Reuters

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