GREECE’S best-selling daily newspaper has put a spotlight on Scotland’s potential paths to independence, reporting that the nation will hold a referendum before 2023.
Today The National exclusively revealed the SNP’s plan to hold a referendum even if Boris Johnson rejects a Section 30 request, publishing Michael Russell’s full 11-point proposal.
Over in Europe the plan drew interest from Athens-based newspaper Ta Nea, which published an interview with Russell all about how Scotland aims to hold a new vote in the next few years.
The newspaper’s London correspondent, Yannis Andritsopoulos, told The National: “Greek media coverage on what’s going on in Scotland has been increased over the past few months – mainly because of Brexit.
“Many in Greece are wondering whether Scotland will leave the UK, just like the UK left the EU.”
He added that the topic is of particular interest this year because 2021 marks the 200th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence.
In the article Russell says indyref2 could take place within six months of legislation passing, adding he is convinced a referendum will happen in the next few years.
Following comments from Johnson that there shouldn’t be another vote for a generation – potentially until as late as 2055 – Russell told Ta Nea: “It is a ludicrous position for him to be in. He just sounds completely out of touch. If the people want a referendum, they will in the end have a referendum. Nothing that Boris Johnson says will stop that happening,”
Waiting decades for another chance to vote on Scotland’s future is “nonsensical” and a “stupid thing to say”, Russell added.
During the interview the Constitution Secretary criticised Westminster’s dismissal of 19 consecutive polls indicating majority support for independence.
“We are dealing with people who are making it up as they go along, because they are very frightened,” he commented. “Because they are frightened about the exercise of democracy. And when people are frightened of democracy, they are in the wrong.”
Discussing plans to return Scotland to the EU as an independent nation, Russell called on the Greek government to “guide” and “support” our journey.
“We hope that you will work with us as we join the EU to support a new member, to guide us on our way,” he said.
The journalist also pushed Russell on claims the 2014 vote was a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity.
The SNP president told the newspaper that this is a term politicians use “often” – but what is also significant is Brexit.
“When I was re-elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2016 I stood on a manifesto, as all my colleagues did, which said if Scotland was taken out of the EU against its will that would be justification for another referendum.
“We said so, we told the voters that. The voters supported us in that. So that alone would say that something has changed.”
Asked for further details on how Scotland could achieve independence without consent from the Westminster Government, Russell explained: “I don’t think there’s any sense in me telling Boris Johnson what I would do next. Because he would simply try and anticipate that.
“But I postulate for your readers – you’re in a newspaper that serves a nation where democracy was founded – if people vote for something they will have that thing. And that’s it.”
The focus on Scotland’s path to independence comes after a number of European and global media outlets have increasing their coverage on the Union.
Last week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her push for indyref2 was profiled in Dutch newspaper De Volkscrant. The top daily paper wrote that if the SNP win a majority in May then a new vote on independence is “almost inevitable”.
Sturgeon was described in the piece as “serious, sober, euro-minded and progressive” – “quite different from the flamboyant, libertarian and risk-taking boarding school boy Johnson who has an unruly relationship with the truth”.
German, Italian, Spanish and French papers have also covered polls showing record-high Yes support in recent weeks.
Next week the First Minister will speak on independence, Brexit and the state of the Union at an online Irish Times event.
To read the full, translated interview click here.