IAN Blackford has hit out at claims the SNP do not have a mandate to hold another independence referendum because 2014 was a “one in a generation” vote.

The party’s Westminster leader was asked the question on Good Morning Britain after the SNP and Scottish Greens won a total of 72 seats in Holyrood on a record turnout for the Scottish Parliament elections of 63% – 10% higher than the previous average.

Blackford said: “What I was pointing out was what was in the Edinburgh Agreement, which is the legal agreement between the two governments in London and Edinburgh. Of course what was contained in the all party arrangements is that nothing would prohibit a future referendum. The point was, the ‘Vow’ that was made in 2014 about more powers, about Scotland being a partner in the Union – all of that has changed. And of course we’ve seen the single market act that has taken powers away from the Scottish Parliament as well.

The National:

“So it's right in these circumstances, let's not forget what happened last week was that ourselves in the Greens, went to the people of Scotland but their manifesto that if they voted for us, then they were the only people to have a say on the future with an independence referendum. “We’ve just won that election and 72 MSPs, in the Scottish Parliament, have that commitment to the independence referendum. Incidentally, the same number of MSPs have supported Independence prior to the 2014 referendum that. That's democracy.”

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It is true that during the independence referendum campaign, both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon used the phrase “once in a lifetime opportunity” or “once in a generation opportunity” to define the political stakes facing the Scottish electorate.

But those in the Yes movement believe they were encouraging voters to seize a particular opportunity, rather than agreeing to an alleged, one-off constitutional device.

Alastair Campbell, who is replacing Piers Morgan on the show, asked Blackford if he agreed that Scotland is still “very divided” on independence and he claimed there has been no “seismic shift” to hold a referendum.

He said: “I think it’s three different things actually. One is of course that the First Minister has led, with her government, Scotland through the pandemic and it is fair to say that a lot of people do support the First Minister and the actions that she's taken and want to see her finish that job that is absolutely correct.

“It was clear in the election campaign, it was clear from our manifesto that we were seeking a mandate to hold the referendum. The mandate to hold the referendum is different from saying that people support it, I fully acknowledge that, what I say to everybody is let's have that debate.”