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Surge in SNP votes will push Westminster into referendum, says depute leader

Keith Brown

A majority for the SNP at next year’s Scottish Parliament election will force the Prime Minister into allowing another independence referendum, the party’s depute leader has said.

Keith Brown told delegates at the SNP virtual conference on Saturday that Boris Johnson “bows to pressure”, citing recent policy changes from the UK Government including on free school meals following a campaign by Manchester United player Marcus Rashford.

The depute leader said the Prime Minister has “been responsible for more about turns than a parade ground drill sergeant”.

Mr Brown said an increase in votes for the SNP will make the pressure for another vote on the constitutional future of the country “impossible to resist”.

The UK Government has repeatedly rejected requests for the powers needed to hold another independence referendum.

“I am not putting my faith in Boris Johnson doing the right thing. I am putting my faith in the people of Scotland to make him do the right thing,” the Clackmannanshire and Dunblane MSP said.

“Scotland, not Boris Johnson, will decide Scotland’s future.”

Mr Brown, a seasoned campaigner for independence, also cautioned members about their conduct in the upcoming campaign.

He urged them to “be the best that we can be” while trying to drum up support for the party ahead of the May poll.

“We need to be tolerant, to be kind, to be open and engaged,” he said.

“We need to keep doing what our leader, Nicola Sturgeon, has been doing so brilliantly – we must demonstrate, day in, day out, how we can be better.”

Mr Brown said that while there may be “pressures and provocations”, campaigners should not “be dragged down to fighting on our opponents’ level”.

He concluded: “I believe that showing tolerance, kindness even, while still holding fast to our beliefs will help us realise our goal.”

He announced a number of changes to how the SNP would campaign for May’s election due to the Covid-19 pandemic, including the launch of a number of magazines and an online campaign tool for canvassers.

Among the changes was a campaign to increase the number of people voting by mail during this cycle as a result of coronavirus, drawing comparisons to the US election earlier this month.

He said: “No matter what happens in the months ahead, people must have the option to cast their vote for the SNP from the safety of home.

“If you want to know why that matters, just think back to those US elections earlier this month, where we all watched postal votes determine the path of a country.

“Our message to the people of Scotland is do likewise, turn your post box into a ballot box.

“Vote SNP twice, early and safely, and let’s shape our nation’s future together.”

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