Nicola Sturgeon has announced plans for a draft Bill for a new Scottish independence referendum, which has been daubed Indyref2.
Announcing her programme for government in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said the draft Bill will set out the proposed question people will be asked in a new poll.
She told MSPs that at next year’s Holyrood election she will “make the case for Scotland to become an independent country, and seek a clear endorsement of Scotland’s right to choose our own future”.
But she added that her Government would use the disruption of the pandemic to “rethink how we do things”.
The First Minister also announced a “significant enhancement to Test & Protect” with the launch of tracing app “Protect Scotland”.
“The app will provide an additional means of notifying and giving advice if you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive – even if you don’t know them and they don’t know you,” she said.
The NHS Louisa Jordan hospital at the SECC in Glasgow will open through winter, she said, and eligibility for the flu vaccine would be extended to “everyone over the age of 55, social care workers and those who live with shielded people”.
Ms Sturgeon said the programme “also lays foundations for the future”.
“It establishes a national mission to create new, high-quality, green jobs,” she said.
She added: “I can can confirm that central to this, and central to our programme, is a Youth Guarantee – a new partnership with Scotland’s employers, backed by £60 million of Government investment, to guarantee everyone aged 16-24 a job, a place in education or a place in training.
“We are also earmarking £10 million to help employers recruit and retain apprentices. This will include incentives to take on apprentices who have been made redundant.”
Ms Sturgeon also announced that a National Transition Training Fund will be launched in the autumn to help “10,000 people of all ages retrain for jobs in growth sectors”, and a Green Jobs Fund initially worth £100 million will be established.
Announcing plans for digital infrastructure, she said that by the end of 2021 an “electronic device, unlimited data, and two years of digital support and training” will be provided to 50,000 people who “would otherwise be without digital access that the rest of us take for granted”.
“This is a massive step, and will help us end the digital divide once and for all,” she said.
“Our overall investment in decarbonising heat – which will in itself be more than £1.5 billion over the next parliament – will help us improve energy efficiency, reduce fuel poverty, and ensure that in just over 20 years, heating in Scotland will no longer be a source of greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.
Saying the Government would help industries become more green, she added that a Grangemouth Future Industry Board would be established “to support a Just Transition at that cluster – promoting economic activity while advancing the move to a low-carbon future”.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s leading pollster has said it would be difficult for the UK Government to avoid another independence referendum within two or three years if the SNP secures a majority at the next Holyrood election. Professor Sir John Curtice said Nicola Sturgeon’s party is well ahead in the polls and precedent suggests a vote should be held if it wins a majority on a platform to hold one.
And a senior member of the SNP has said there is “growing despair” among party members over the leadership’s failure to lay the groundwork for a new independence campaign. Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who is now the MP for East Lothian, said work on a new prospectus for Indyref2 was “moribund”.
Bad news for Nicola is that Ministers stand to lose most of the £120m of taxpayers money it has used to bail out three struggling Scottish companies – as they confirmed that they have had no financial return from their huge loan bailout.
The loans were used to prop up Prestwick Airport, Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd, the ailing shipbuilder at the centre of Scotland’s ferry building fiasco and Burntisland Fabrications (Bifab), the struggling Fife manufacturer at the centre of a wind farm jobs row.