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SNP want 16 year olds and foreign nationals to vote at the next independence referendum

22 Mar 2021 3 minute read
Scottish independence rally 2018. Picture by Azerifactory (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The SNP want 16-year-olds and foreign nationals to be given a vote at the next Scottish independence referendum.

The question and timing for a new independence referendum has been published in a draft bill by the Scottish Government today.

The SNP want the referendum to take place after the pandemic but within the first half of the next parliamentary term.

It’s also proposed that voter eligibility be extended to match the franchise at the Holyrood and council elections, meaning that 16-year-olds and foreign nationals would have the vote.

The proposed question, “should Scotland be an independent country?”, is the same as that posed in 2014.

Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said: “Our top priority will continue to be dealing with the pandemic and keeping the country safe, but we are optimistic that because of the incredible efforts of people across Scotland better times lie ahead.”

‘Not a priority’

Michael Russell added that the Scottish Government believed it should be the people living in Scotland who have the right to decide how we recover from the pandemic and what sort of country we wish to build after the crisis.

“If Westminster maintains its control, recent history shows what Scotland can expect — an economic recovery hindered by a hard Brexit that is already taking a significant toll and the continued, systematic undermining of devolution, which is weakening our parliament’s powers to maintain food and environmental standards and protect the NHS from post-Brexit trade deals,” he said.

“Scotland’s recovery should be made by the people who live here and who care most about Scotland. That is why Scotland’s future should be Scotland’s choice.

“It should be for the next Scottish Parliament to decide the timing of the referendum. So that the recovery from the pandemic can be made in Scotland, the Scottish Government believes it should be held in the first half of the new Parliamentary term.

“If there is a majority in the Scottish Parliament after the forthcoming election for an independence referendum there can be no democratic justification whatsoever for any Westminster government to seek to block a post-pandemic referendum.”

Scottish Labour constitution spokesperson Colin Smyth said: “The focus for all of Scotland’s politicians should be on bringing the country together, and an independence referendum is not a priority at this time.

“Scottish Labour will focus on what unites us, not what divides us.

“In contrast to the SNP and Boris Johnson’s Tories, Scottish Labour will put our national recovery first.

“At this election, Scottish Labour is putting forward a national recovery plan that will put the national interest before the nationalist interest.”

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