What SNP-Green deal means for Scotland and IndyRef2

Nicola Sturgeon slammed by Neil Oliver over calls for Indyref2

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Scotland independence has been a contentious issue between Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon with each taking swipes at one another when the topic is raised. The SNP leader has threatened to take aggressive action in the fight for IndyRef2 while the Prime Minister has announced he will use all legal avenues to quash the Scottish bid. But a new development in Scottish politics could change everything.

The Scottish National Party and the Scottish Greens have now agreed a new power-sharing agreement at Holyrood.

The deal means the Greens are now in Government for the first time ever in the UK.

The SNP narrowly missed out on winning an outright majority in the May Scottish elections – claiming 64 out of the 65 required seats.

As in 2016, the SNP was left with a minority Government and therefore required the backing of MPs from other parties to pass legislation.

However, unlike previous years where the SNP Government has relied on the support of the Scottish Greens to pass items such as the annual budget, the new deal will see some Greens brought into SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s Government as ministers.

The new deal in many ways looks similar to a coalition Government deal – like that seen with the David Cameron-Nick Clegg coalition Government.

Unlike that Government, however, the Greens will retain opt-out powers from policies they disagree with which means they can continue to criticise the SNP.

The Scottish cabinet met virtually on Friday morning to approve the proposal.

Some Green MSPs are due to be appointed as ministers, with further details of the agreement to be outlined later on Friday.

The deal marks the first time the SNP has shared power at Holyrood during its 14-year stint in Government.

The two Scottish Greens co-leaders, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, are expected to be appointed as junior ministers.

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The SNP/Green deal provides the Scottish Government a majority to pass new legislation, including a new independence referendum bill.

Both the SNP and Greens are in support of an independent Scotland and now with a majority, it looks likely the Government will pass legislation to move towards independence.

Ultimately the deal will also put the SNP in a stronger position to rebuff opposition from the Conservative Party and the Labour Party.

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader condemned the SNP/Green deal saying it would lead to a “coalition of chaos”.

Mr Ross tweeted: “Scotland will suffer from this nationalist coalition of chaos.

“The SNP-Green government will be anti-jobs, anti-business, anti-families, anti-drivers, anti-oil and gas.

“Nicola Sturgeon failed to win a majority, so she needs a hand to ramp up the division and push for IndyRef2.”

However, even if the Scottish Government does forge ahead with the Scottish independence vote, a former senior civil servant has quashed pro-independence hopes saying the Government would likely lose any court battle over IndyRef2.

SNP policy is to legislate in Holyrood for another vote if the UK Government rejects requests to devolve the necessary powers needed to hold one.

But such a move would be challenged by Westminster in court.

Professor Ciaran Martin, who was constitution director at the Cabinet Office between 2011 and 2014, said he thought the UK Government would win a legal challenge to any separation vote Ms Sturgeon attempts to stage unilaterally.

He told the Edinburgh International Book Festival: “If Westminster withholds that acquiescence, then there’s a stalemate”.

Professor Martin added: “Holyrood will begin to legislate for a referendum anyway, probably at some point next year, and it will likely end up in court.

“I think, but I’m not a lawyer – nor can anyone predict court cases with confidence – but I think the Scottish Government will lose.

“Ultimately, I think that even if they pull off a surprise win, Westminster could change the law.

“They could refuse to recognise the result or Unionists could boycott the vote.”

He added a “smooth path” to independence would be subject to “Westminster’s acquiescence” and how the stalemate played out.

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