EDINBURGH (BLOOMBERG) – Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will seek to shift attention again to her push for an independence referendum after she was cleared of breaking the ministerial code.
A report Monday (March 22nd) by James Hamilton, a former Irish public prosecutor, found that Sturgeon did not violate guidelines on how she handled sexual harassment allegations against her predecessor, Alex Salmond. Hamilton also rejected suggestions that she tried to influence the investigation and she deceived Parliament.
The leader of the Scottish National Party is now confident but confident of surviving a no-confidence vote Tuesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives had hoped would disrupt the separatist movement by ousting its champion.
The outcome of a separate investigation into the allegations against Salmond by a cross-party committee of lawmakers will be published earlier Tuesday. This, however, is likely to be overshadowed by Hamilton’s verdict.
Key findings from the committee’s report were leaked to the British media last week, prompting allegations of partisan interference.
The weeks of political drama in Scotland now seem to be coming to a close before the key election on 6 May. Had Hamilton’s conclusions gone the other way, the pressure would have risen on Sturgeon – one of Britain’s most prominent politicians and a key opponent of Johnson – to resign.
Draft Law on Referendum
Since taking over in 2014, Sturgeon has been the public face of Brexit independence and opposition. Over the past year, she has also gained support for her pandemic treatment compared to Johnson.
Polls show there is now majority support for the call of time in the three-century union with England and Wales, and the Scottish government on Monday unveiled draft legislation outlining a roadmap for another referendum. Designed to create a showdown with the UK government on the right to hold one.
But the audience that falls with Salmond, Sturgeon’s former friend and mentor, has taken over the country with 5.5 million people in recent weeks. The question is how it will play out in the ballot box.
The SNP needs a majority in the May election to put more pressure on the London government to vote for independence. A poll last week showed a mistake in support for the SNP, though the party still scores a big victory over the Johnson Conservatives, who oppose another referendum as well as independence.
Two questions The latest drama stems from the fall of the Salmond investigation. He was acquitted by a court last year of sexual assault, and a judge had previously ruled that the way the Scottish government had investigated the allegations had been illegal.
This subsequently led to two investigations, one by lawmakers’ cross-party committee to handle charges against Salmond and one by Hamilton if Sturgeon broke the ministerial code. The latter would always be more critical of its future.
This became more apparent after the committee investigation was discredited by Sturgeon and her party after what they called a “partisan leak”. Sturgeon said she stood by the eight hours of evidence she gave in the investigation and was not surprised by the revelations that came out through the British media.
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