Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Scottish independence debate: Is Douglas Ross ‘a bit silly’ or Nicola Sturgeon ‘too feart’?

Scottish independence debate
Douglas Ross has challenged Nicola Sturgeon to a debate over her referendum plans.

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross has challenged Nicola Sturgeon to a debate this month on her plans for a second independence referendum.

In a speech broadcast in response to the SNP’s recent announcement of a ‘roadmap to independence’, Mr Ross said that if the first minister is “not prepared to disown this plan she should be prepared to defend it”.

He added that this should be a “one-on-one debate” with a “mutual referee” to pose questions to the two politicians on Scotland’s constitutional future.

However, speaking during her daily Covid-19 briefing on Monday, Ms Sturgeon said her challenger was at “risk of making himself look a bit silly”, claiming she was “100% focused on leading the country through the pandemic“.

Mr Ross said: “At the moment, Nicola Sturgeon and her supporters say she’s far too busy dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“She wasn’t too busy to authorise this 11-point plan to have another independence referendum or too busy as leader of the SNP to set up a taskforce on independence so the public deserve answers.

“As the leader of the party that aims to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK, she should be willing to defend her plans and debate them with me as the leader of the main opposition party that’s in favour of remaining a strong and integral part of the UK.”

‘Too feart’ for Scottish independence debate?

The Scottish Conservatives leader said if the first minister was “too feart” to join in the proposed debate then “she needs to explain why”.

He added: “Why does she believe this plan should be rolled out now if she’s not willing to defend it in public and go under scrutiny in terms of what that would mean for Scotland and the UK?”

I think he might be in danger of making himself look a bit silly.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Asked about Mr Ross’s challenge during her daily Covid-19 briefing on Monday, Ms Sturgeon said she “wouldn’t spend too much time on a political question”.

But added: “I’m a little bit confused that the leader of the Conservatives appears, on one hand, to not want me to talk about politics, to focus on the pandemic, which is exactly what I have been doing and will continue to do and my only focus right now is on the pandemic.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says Mr Ross may make himself look “a bit silly” with his proposal for a Scottish independence debate.

“On the other hand, he is challenging me to a debate on politics. I think he might be in danger of making himself look a bit silly.

“I’ll leave others to play games in politics. I’ve got a real job to do and people can decide themselves if I’m doing it well or not but I am absolutely 100% focused on leading this country through a pandemic.”

Legality issues

The Scottish Conservatives leader was quizzed on whether he would want the UK Government to challenge in court any move to hold another independence vote on the nation’s future before the end of this year.

It comes after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said that any Scottish independence referendum without Westminster approval would be “illegal”.

Scottish independence debate
Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack.

Mr Ross said the UK Government should not get involved in “petty politics when the whole country should be focused on getting on top of Covid-19”.

Mr Ross said the country faces a “Covid-19 election”, adding he does not believe now is “not the right time for politics”.

When asked if he wanted to see May’s Holyrood election delayed, he said: “I want to get rid of this Scottish Government who have run Scotland for the last 14 years so I want the quickest opportunity to take that challenge to the SNP.

“But we’ve got to understand that we’re in a really difficult period with the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Dunlop review

Mr Ross said he is confident a Downing Street review of how devolution is working, which was due to be released before the end of last year, would be published as “quickly as possible”.

It comes after we exclusively revealed last week that the review, set up by Theresa May in July 2019, has cost taxpayers more than £13,000.

Lord Andrew Dunlop in Dundee.

Spearheaded by Tory peer Andrew Dunlop, the review reported to Number 10 in Christmas 2019 with 40 recommendations.

Asked about when the review would be published, Mr Ross said: “I’m not trying to avoid the question. I can’t flick a switch and release the Dunlop report.

‘Clear and present danger’: So why did Theresa May go all Harrison Ford?

“The UK Government have said it would be released by now and I’m sure the Scotland Office, the Cabinet Office and the Prime Minister will look to get it released as quickly as possible.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in



More from the Press and Journal Scottish politics team

More from the Press and Journal