Indyref2 should happen in next five years, says Swinney

Thursday, Jun 13, 2024

EDINBURGH: John Swinney has said there should be a referendum on Scottish independence in the next five years as he denied the SNP are downplaying the issue in its General Election campaign.

The First Minister also responded to Rishi Sunak’s comments that the D-Day commemoration “ran over”, saying the event in Normandy had been a “huge privilege” to attend.

On Wednesday, the SNP leader was campaigning at an Asda in Edinburgh, where he joked about doing an “apprenticeship” after a brief stint scanning goods behind one of the tills.

Speaking to journalists, Mr Swinney said he “completely” rejected that his campaign is downplaying Scottish independence.

He said: “What I’ve been doing throughout this election campaign is relating independence to the principal concerns that people have in Scotland.”

Mr Swinney said these concerns were the cost of living, the implications of Brexit and austerity.

He added: “What I’ve done so far in this election campaign is essentially connect the concerns of members of the public to independence.

“So that independence is not viewed as an abstract concept, but as a relevant concept.”

Mr Swinney was asked if a vote for the SNP is a vote for an independence referendum within the next five years.

He said: “That’s what I think should happen, that would be the best thing to happen.”

The First Minister was in Asda with his candidate for Edinburgh South West, Joanna Cherry, who has been a vocal critic of the Scottish Government’s policies on gender recognition.

Asked about the relevance of appearing alongside her, the SNP leader said: “I think what’s important is that people see John Swinney as a figure of unity.”

On Wednesday, ITV aired footage of the Prime Minister apologising for keeping journalist Paul Brand waiting, saying the D-Day event he did attend “just ran over”. This led to fresh attacks from the Conservatives’ opponents following Mr Sunak’s apology for leaving the commemorations early.

Mr Swinney, who also attended the event, told the PA news agency: “Every moment I spent there was absolutely precious and I would have spent even more time there, if it was possible to do so, because the experience was utterly overwhelming and a huge privilege. “I was surprised that wasn’t reflected in the Prime Minister’s comments.”