Edinburgh (AP) – Despite strong allegations from the opposition, Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon is heading for the wind in the hot phase ahead of the six-week regional elections.
That seems strange – after all, Britain’s champion of independence is under heavy attack. The 50-year-old was faced with a vote of no confidence on Tuesday. In addition, a parliamentary committee report accuses her of misleading MPs. But both only scratch the surface of the popular politician’s image – as an independent report confirmed she hadn’t made a mistake.
This is one of the reasons why it hardly seems conceivable that Sturgeon will really overthrow the parliamentary vote. She has already dismissed the committee’s allegations as politically motivated. “Overall, Nicola Sturgeon seems to have come out of the case fairly well,” said Kirsty Hughes, director of the Scottish Council on European Relations think tank in Edinburgh, Germany’s news agency. Noted political scientist John Curtice told the DPA that the allegations against Sturgeon had collapsed.
The case looks tricky. Several women had accused Sturgeon’s predecessor, Alex Salmond, of attempted rape and sexual harassment, but the former head of government was acquitted just over a year ago. Now the question arose as to whether Sturgeon was acting correctly in the case – and when she found out about the allegations. Salmond accused his former confidant of ignoring him politically, and the opposition conservatives eagerly entered the discussion. However, Sturgeon denied all allegations and the independent report confirmed them.
Now the head of government can devote himself again to the important regional elections. Your Scottish National Party (SNP) is hoping for an absolute majority in the vote on May 6, then to back up its demand for a new independence referendum. But after the SNP led at times with a clear lead in surveys, the race is now open again. Political scientist Curtice suspects that the internal party dispute will cost the SNP two to three percentage points. “Obviously, it was a lengthy, messy and politically damaging affair,” said expert Hughes.
It’s important that the election campaign can get back to the forefront, Curtice said. “Independence, Brexit, coronavirus: these questions now need to be addressed again.” These topics speak especially to Sturgeon. Your crisis management in the Corona crisis is valued by the Scots across party lines, as investigations have repeatedly shown. With their aim of bringing Scotland back into the EU, Sturgeon also hits a nerve – as a clear majority of Scots reject Brexit. In addition, your main opponent, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is extremely unpopular in Scotland. Probably that is why Johnson’s spokeswoman does not want to comment on the events in the North.
In the meantime, the prime minister is preparing for a lively debate. The London government insists that it will ultimately decide whether Scotland can vote on secession for the second time after 2014. The first time a narrow majority voted against the divorce – and Johnson strictly rejects a repeat. But the SNP is of the opinion that the signs have changed due to Brexit and that the Scottish Parliament also has sufficient powers. The regional government has already submitted a bill to be questioned in a referendum. Sufficient material for the election campaign is guaranteed.