PATRICK Harvie has indicated his MSPs will give unconditional support for an independence bill if one is introduced in the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Greens convener launched a new drive for sovereignty at his party’s conference last week arguing it was becoming “the best option to protect Scotland’s interests” following the result of the EU referendum in which Scotland voted to remain while the UK voted overall to leave the bloc.
In an interview published yesterday he said he would not be making any demands from the SNP in connection with other policies in return for his party’s support on the constitutional issue.
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Speaking to Holyrood, Harvie said: “We are certainly not going to play quid pro quo games with an issue as important as this. We wouldn’t trade off supporting something that is our own party policy in exchange for concessions on something completely different.”
Nicola Sturgeon has started planning a new drive for independence following the EU referendum in which 62 per cent of voters backed Remain.
But with the SNP two seats short of a majority in Holyrood, it would need the support of another party to get any Bill legislating for a second referendum on independence through the Scottish Parliament.
The six votes in favour from the Greens would ensure the two parties would outnumber the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who have all pledged to vote against the plans.
SNP ministers published a draft Referendum Bill last Thursday for public consultation, and there will be a statement in Holyrood this week.
The Scottish Greens backed the Yes campaign in 2014, but differed from the SNP on the currency issue with the smaller party proposing the introduction of a new currency in an independent Scotland.
Harvie continued: “But the terms of the referendum Bill obviously have to be right, and we want to work constructively to make sure the nature of the referendum campaign is genuinely inclusive, and that it goes beyond where things were last time.
“So, for example, currency needs to be developed from where the SNP was in 2014. So it is not about saying, ‘We will only support a referendum if…’ it is about being constructive working together and making sure, when it comes, we are in the strongest position as possible.”
Last month the SNP announced a new growth commission, which will be tasked with examining different currency options for an independent Scotland alongside the development of a strategy to boost the economy under independence.
Harvie also used his speech at the Green conference to warn against the idea of campaigning for a shared pound after a vote for independence, with the Green co-convener arguing the plan would prove “even more unconvincing than it did in 2014”.
Referring to the SNP’s growth commission, Harvie told Holyrood: “I would like to have seen more people who could have brought some practical experience of the sort of ground work that would need to be done if we were going to establish an independent currency, and also about the transition away from fossil fuels, because a currency that is too over exposed to that kind of industry is not going to be in a strong position to offer genuine, sustainable prosperity for Scotland.”
The Scottish Government will also need agreement from the UK Government to hold a referendum by temporarily devolving the power to do so from Westminster through a Section 30 order.