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    Nicola Sturgeon is accused of ‘shamelessly’ exploiting coronavirus crisis

    Nicola Sturgeon is accused of ‘shamelessly’ exploiting coronavirus crisis to ‘flog’ Scottish independence in article begging the EU to let it join

    Nicola Sturgeon was accused of ‘shamelessly’ exploiting the coronavirus crisis to ‘flog’ Scottish independence today after she wrote an article for a German slamming Brexit.

    In a piece for Germany’s Die Welt, the First Minister branded the UK’s tough line in trade talks ‘reckless’ and said she wanted Scotland to join the bloc if her campaign to split the union succeeds.

    But critics lambasted the way Ms Sturgeon was trying to ‘stir up division’ at a time of crisis, even though she previously promised to put her separatist ambitions on hold.

    The intervention came at a critical moment in the Brexit process, with negotiations over a trade deal hanging in the balance and Boris Johnson threatening to walk away if Brussels will not compromise. 

    In the piece, which coincided with the latest EU Council summit, Miss Sturgeon wrote that Brexit is a ‘direct threat to jobs, investment and living standards’ in Scotland and said the lack of a trade deal will ‘cripple’ the food and drink industry.

    She said: ‘The fact the UK Government seems determined to push ahead with exiting the transition period with no deal in place would be a foolish move in normal times.

    ‘In the middle of a global pandemic it is utterly reckless.

    In a piece for Germany’s Die Welt, the First Minister branded the UK’s tough line in trade talks ‘reckless’ and said she wanted Scotland to join the bloc if her campaign to split the union succeeds.

    A bombshell poll this week suggested support for Scottish independence has hit 58 per cent

    A bombshell poll this week suggested support for Scottish independence has hit 58 per cent

    The intervention came at a critical moment in the Brexit process, with negotiations over a trade deal hanging in the balance and Boris Johnson (pictured running this morning) threatening to walk away if Brussels will not compromise

    The intervention came at a critical moment in the Brexit process, with negotiations over a trade deal hanging in the balance and Boris Johnson (pictured running this morning) threatening to walk away if Brussels will not compromise

    ‘That recklessness is exemplified by the UK Government’s proposed Internal Market Bill, which they admit would break international law and would renege on the Brexit treaty which Boris Johnson’s government agreed only last year. The Bill also seeks to take powers away from the Scottish parliament, and the legislatures in Northern Ireland and Wales.’

    She said the UK Government approach is ‘entirely counter to the Scottish Government’s vision for our country’.

    She added: ‘Scotland has also contributed much to Europe through our people, our worldclass universities, and now in particular the fight against climate change. The Scottish Government believes the best future for our country is as an independent nation within the EU.

    ‘Some people may question my stated desire for solidarity with the desire for independence. However, in reality, the two go hand in hand.

    ‘It is precisely because we have a UK Government that is determined to turn its back on cooperation, consensus and solidarity that Scotland needs an alternative way forward. 

    ‘Unlike the EU, which is a partnership of equals where decisions require consent and often unanimity from members, the UK does not work like that and the wishes of Scotland can be ignored and overridden by Westminster.’

    Labour MP Ian Murray, the Shadow Scottish Secretary, said: ‘This tells you everything about Nicola Sturgeon’s priorities. 

    ‘Scots will be shocked to see that while she tells the people of Scotland she is focused on the pandemic, she is writing about Scexit in an international newspaper and trying to stir up division.

    The EU's Michel Barnier has been demanding that the UK backs down on red lines in the post-Brexit trade negotiations

    The EU’s Michel Barnier has been demanding that the UK backs down on red lines in the post-Brexit trade negotiations

    ‘How dare she talk about solidarity when she wants to tear apart the bonds of solidarity that exist within the UK?’ 

    Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Dean Lockhart said: ‘In the middle of a global pandemic, Scottish people will be downright furious that Nicola Sturgeon thinks it’s a good use of her time to shamelessly flog Scottish independence in Germany. This is a distraction when lives and livelihoods are on the line.

    ‘We all, including the First Minister, need to be focused 100 per cent on managing this crisis. The last thing that Scotland needs right now is the division and uncertainty of another independence referendum.’

    Pamela Nash, chief executive of the Scotland in Union campaign group, said: ‘Nicola Sturgeon’s arguments are wrongheaded. She has no right to talk about ‘solidarity’ when her entire philosophy is about division. Instead of trying to break up the UK, the Scottish Government should be working within the UK to help lead us through this crisis.’

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