Nicola Sturgeon will have a “whole host of back-seat drivers” giving her instructions on how to achieve Scottish independence if the SNP wins a majority, Willie Rennie has said.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader compared the SNP leader’s positioin with Theresa May’s beleaguered attempts to negotiate a Brexit deal amid various demands from factions within her Conservative Party.
Speaking to the PA news agency Rennie said Sturgeon has lost control the nationalist agenda and figures like Alex Salmond and the Greens would quickly put the parliament and the First Minister off the road.
Rennie said the prospect of nationalist in-fighting dominating the parliament would see Scottish politics “bedevilled” by the constitution for another five years.
Rennie said: “If the SNP, the nationalists, get a majority, I think Nicola will have a whole host of back-seat drivers.”
“She’s lost control of the nationalist movement already and I think there will be people shouting out all the time from the back seat telling her exactly which direction to go in and she’ll be beholden to them because she’ll have your commitment to try and pursue this whole independence agenda.
“But they don’t agree with each other – Alex Salmond wants it on day one, he’s talking about taking to the streets.
“I don’t quite know what the Greens’ strategy is, but we know they changed their strategy a few weeks after the last election, so who knows what they’ll do this time, and there’s not one single view within the SNP about how this should be done.
“Nicola keeps pushing it back and who knows where it will end up.”
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Rennie said he believed the SNP’s plan for another independence referendum by 2023 would be derailed if they fail to get an overall majority on May 6, and argued that parliament could instead focus on a recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
He added: “She’s almost beginning to look a bit like Theresa May who, despite her best efforts, she’s got a factionalised movement behind her that’s pulling in all sorts of directions, and is trying to control things from the back seat.”
He added: “If we turn back from that and make sure that they don’t get that majority, then there’s a real chance we can get the parliament focused on recovery.”
“That’s the choice we’ve got.We’ve got Nicola driving the vehicle as a majority, with all these back-seat drivers telling her where to go.
“Or we can have a parliament that is resolutely focused, working in partnership to get recovery put first and to create jobs and tackle climate emergency and make sure the NHS is back up to speed, and cutting waits for mental health treatment and make sure we’ve got bounce-back support for education.”