Nicola Sturgeon's independence obsession will cost LIVES – Tories

Nicola Sturgeon’s obsession with independence and plans to hold an illegal referendum next year will cost LIVES by ‘distracting’ her from dealing with Scotland’s drug death crisis, say Tories

  • Tory leader Douglas Ross questioned the Scottish Government’s priorities
  • First Minister launched a new independence campaign earlier this week
  • Ross said she should focus on cutting drug-related deaths in Scotland
  • ‘Said: ‘Every time the SNP campaign for a referendum drugs deaths spiral’

Nicola Sturgeon was today warned her obsession with a new independence referendum will cost Scottish lives as she fails to deal with the country’s more pressing problems. 

At First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, the first since the launch of the new separatism campaign, Tory leader Douglas Ross questioned the Scottish Government’s priorities.

The First Minister launched a new campaign for another referendum on independence earlier this week, publishing the first in a series of papers that will make up the prospectus for an independent Scotland. 

Mr Ross told First Minister’s Questions more attention should be paid to closing the poverty-related attainment gap and funding the NHS as opposed to pushing for another ‘divisive’ vote.

And in a stinging attack on the First Minister, he said she should be putting her effort into cutting drug-related deaths in Scotland, currently the worst in Europe. 

In a blunt rebuke to the SNP leader he told Holyrood: ‘Nicola Sturgeon is distracted all over again, and we know what happens next. Every time the SNP campaign for another referendum Scotland’s drugs deaths spiral.

At First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, the first since the launch of the new separatism campaign, Tory leader Douglas Ross questioned the Scottish Government’s priorities.

And in a stinging attack on the First Minister, he said she should be putting her effort into cutting drug-related deaths in Scotland, currently the worst in Europe

‘The First Minister has admitted it herself. She took her eye off the ball and people lost their lives.

‘And the latest figures show Nicola Sturgeon’s drugs deaths scandal remains the worst in Europe.’

The SNP yesterday upped the ante in the independence battle by claiming a referendum could happen in October next year.

The timetable emerged after Nicola Sturgeon launched a fresh push for a vote, despite conceding that ‘regulatory and customs’ problems would arise if Scotland split and joined the EU single market.

Her admission that there could be a hard border with England raises the prospect of Northern Ireland-style wrangling with Brussels over checks on goods.

But Ms Sturgeon insisted the obstacles could be overcome, and access to the EU market mattered more to Scotland. 

However, Boris Johnson has made clear he will not approve another referendum, saying the decision was taken ‘only a few years ago, in recent memory’.

And ministers insisted Ms Sturgeon must wait until 2039, after the 2014 contest was branded ‘once in a generation’ and resulted in 55 per cent backing the union.

Last year she was accused of presiding over ‘national shame’ as Scotland’s drugs deaths hit a new record of 1,339.

The grim toll went up 5 per cent in 2021, the seventh annual rise in a row, as the country continued to have the worst fatality rate in Europe.

With 21.2 deaths per 1,000 people, the level is more than three-and-a-half times higher than the rest of the UK.

Some 291 lost their lives in Glasgow alone – the worst hit area. Of the overall figure, 1,192 deaths were related in some way to opioids.

The grim toll went up 5 per cent last year, the seventh annual rise in a row, as the country continued to have the worst fatality rate in Europe

The latest official figures for 2020 show that rates have soared among the middle-aged 

Ms Sturgeon claimed the Conservatives are ‘terrified’ of another vote on Scottish independence after the party’s leader in Scotland challenged her priorities.

‘There is a real desperation at the heart of Douglas Ross’s approach to independence.

‘It’s very telling that he is so terrified of the substantive debate on independence, so terrified of the verdict of the Scottish people on independence ,that he’s reduced to somehow trying to pretend that democracy in Scotland is illegal.

‘It is not a question of whether this Government respects the rule of law – we do and always will – the question is, is Douglas Ross a democrat?

‘And I think the glaring answer to that is no.’

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