Great Britain

Queen uses speech to deliver dig to Nicola Sturgeon over Scottish independence bid

Addressing Parliament to deliver her newly formed Government's speech, the Queen reminded Lords and MPs that the integrity of the Kingdom is of the "utmost importance". She said: “The integrity and prosperity of the United Kingdom are of the utmost importance to my Government.” The stern reminder comes as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she has a new mandate to call for a fresh independence vote after winning the most seats in Scotland in last week's general election.

The Scottish Government published a report stating that because of this the process for agreeing the terms of a fresh ballot should now begin.

The document, Scotland's Right To Choose, was made public as Nicola Sturgeon confirmed she has written to Boris Johnson asking for the power to hold a second ballot on independence.

The report states: "We call on the UK Government to enter discussions about the Scottish Government's mandate for giving the people of Scotland a choice, and to agree legislation with the Scottish Government that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament's right to legislate for a referendum on independence."

Just over five years ago, in September 2014, Scots voted by 55% to 45% in favour of staying part of the UK.

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Queen's speech: Nicola Sturgeon reminded 'integrity of UK of utmost importance' (Image: REUTERS•GETTY)

The change of circumstances the report claims is not just that Scotland will be removed from the European Union when the country voted against this in 2016.

It also states the approach of the UK Government to the Brexit process has "demonstrated that the views and interests of Scotland can and will be set aside" by Westminster, with this taking place "despite claims that the UK is a partnership of equals".

The report stresses the "people of Scotland express their democratic will through elections", adding "their votes since the EU referendum demonstrate the continued force and relevance of the mandate the Scottish Government received in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections".

The report noted that in 2017, 69 of Scotland's 129 MSPs voted in favour of a second independence referendum.

In the general election that year, the SNP won 35 of the 59 Scottish seats on a manifesto that included a commitment to giving people a "real choice" over their future when the final terms of the Brexit deal are known.

In 2018, 46 of the 59 Scottish MPs voted against the passage of the UK Government's EU (Withdrawal) Bill - with only Scottish Tories voting for this.

Meanwhile, at Holyrood, 93 of the 129 MSPs voted against the legislation, with the Scottish Parliament refusing to formally consent to the Bill.

Earlier this month, the SNP won 47 of 59 Scottish seats at Westminster at the end of a campaign which had focused on a call to "put Scotland's future in Scotland's hands".

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Nicola Sturgeon claims she has clear mandate to call for a second referendum for independence (Image: GETTY)

The report said: "The Scottish Government believes that events since 2016 have reinforced the mandate it has from the people of Scotland."

But Boris Johnson's Government rejected her demands for a new independence referendum after Brexit, saying it would be "a damaging distraction" and would undermine the result of the last vote five years ago.

"A second independence referendum next year would be a damaging distraction," the Government said in a briefing note accompany its legislative agenda.

"It would undermine the decisive result of the 2014 referendum and the promise made to the Scottish people that it was a once in a generation vote."