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Scottish Labour slam government for ‘wasting time’ on independence referendum debate amid pandemic crisis

by Niall Christie

Scotland editor

THE Scottish government should focus on the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine and economic recovery instead of independence, opposition MSPs said in a Holyrood debate today.

It came after the SNP unveiled its “road map” to another independence poll at the weekend.

During the debate, brought by the Tories, an amended motion was proposed by Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon calling for the introduction of a 24-hour vaccination programme.

Ms Lennon’s amendment supported the motion’s proposition that “planning an independence referendum in 2021, during an ongoing global pandemic, would be reckless and damaging.”

Labour also urged the government to set out an exit strategy from lockdown which can “effectively suppress the virus in the long-term.”

But Ms Lennon chastised the Tories for “wasting time” with the debate in light of the seriousness of the crisis facing Scotland. 

“Covid-19 is a vicious virus that does not care about politics or the constitution,” she said. “Getting Scotland vaccinated should be uniting this parliament. 

“We badly need a plan to eliminate Covid. People in our country want to be brought together. The priority for all of us needs to be getting the vaccine into people’s arms.”

The government’s own amendment stated that should there be a majority in the next parliament for a post-pandemic referendum on Scottish independence, there can be “no justification whatsoever” to deny one to the people.

Constitution Secretary Mike Russell said the issue was being raised due to the Tories’ “fear of democracy” and questioned why the motion was being debated at all, defending the government’s record on Covid-19 vaccinations.

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