Nicola Sturgeon jets off to the US on ‘selfie tour’ banging the drum for independence as Scots struggle with cost-of-living crisis
- Nicola Sturgeon travels 3,500 miles to Washington DC to continue indyref push
- She had vowed to make cost-of-living crisis a ‘priority’ ahead of local elections
- An expert at the US thinktank the SNP leader will speak at questions her trip
Nicola Sturgeon is facing anger at her ‘selfie tour’ to America this week as she jetted across the Atlantic to push her campaign for Scottish independence.
Critics questioned why Scotland’s First Minister was travelling 3,500 miles to Washington DC less than two weeks after Scotland’s local elections.
In a pre-election pledge, Ms Sturgeon had vowed the cost-of-living crisis hurting struggling Scots would be a ‘priority’ for her and the rest of the SNP.
She has since promised to start refreshing the ‘very positive case’ for Scottish independence following the election results.
The First Minister has been accused of being ‘politically opportunist’ over the timing of her renewed push for independence when Russia continues to wage its brutal assault on Ukraine.
Ms Sturgeon hit back at those criticising her trip, which will see her speak at a major US thinktank today.
She argued that whatever Scotland’s ‘constitutional future’, her country ‘must be part’ of international cooperation on the Covid pandemic, climate change and the Ukraine war.
Ahead of the local elections, Nicola Sturgeon had vowed the cost-of-living crisis hurting struggling Scots would be a ‘priority’ for her and the rest of the SNP
The SNP want another Scottish independence referendum by the end of next year
In her speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, the SNP leader is due to warn that failure to meet climate change targets agreed at November’s Cop-26 summit in Glasgow would be ‘catastrophic’.
She will describe how, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the ‘world looks very different’ to how it did six months ago. But she will argue that ‘many of the challenges we faced then remain’.
The First Minister, who wants another Scottish independence referendum by the end of next year, will say: ‘The security debates in Europe are not just about military capabilities and strategic alliances.
‘The invasion of Ukraine is also forcing countries in Europe to rethink long-held assumptions about energy policy and energy security.’
Ms Sturgeon will tell the audience that Scotland is looking to become a ‘testbed for green technologies’.
‘We will lead by example in our own actions, we will contribute to international energy security, and we will work with allies across the globe as we strive, together, to build a fairer, more secure and more sustainable world,’ she will add.
Ahead of her speech at the Brookings Institution, one of the thinktank’s own experts questioned the timing of Ms Sturgeon’s renewed focus on ‘disruptive’ Scottish independence.
The SNP are committed to removing Britain’s nuclear deterrent from Scotland, should the country breakaway from the rest of the UK.
Michael O’Hanlon, director of research in foreign policy at Brookings Institution, told the Herald on Sunday: ‘It just feels a weird moment to push this, with – sorry – much bigger issues dominating the news and the schedules of policymakers.
‘If Scots push this now it feels like they are somehow being political opportunists, in a slightly unfriendly way to the broader Nato good.’
He added: ‘To me it feels wrong in the timing. Nato does not have the bandwidth for this issue now.
‘And it might appear to weaken the alliance at a time when we need to project strength and resolve.’
The Scottish Conservatives were also criticial of Ms Sturgeon’s US trip, which the party’s chief whip Stephen Kerr dubbed a ‘selfie tour’ for the First Minister.
Noting how Labour’s London mayor Sadiq Khan also recently visited the US in a trip focussed on drugs policy, Mr Kerr suggested the Conservatives were left as ‘the only party seemingly interested in governing the UK’.
Fellow Tory MSP Donald Cameron, the party’s constitution spokesman, accused Ms Sturgeon of abandoning domestic issues.
He said: ‘It’s telling that as Scots grapple with the cost-of-living crisis, Nicola Sturgeon jets off to the United States on an independence promotion tour.
‘Poll after poll has shown that Scots do not want another divisive referendum, yet the SNP concentrates on little else.
‘The First Minister should be focused on clearing up her government’s mess on health, education, drugs deaths and the ferries fiasco, rather than grandstanding on the international stage.’
In an article for The Times today, Ms Sturgeon pushed back at criticism of her US trip. She wrote: ‘The SNP’s opponents try to delegitimise the Scottish Government’s international engagement.
‘But the reality is that Scottish ministers have been making international visits like this since the start of the devolution era, long before my party took office.
‘Promoting our country overseas should, quite simply, be seen as part of the job for whoever the government of the day happens to be.
‘My own hope, of course, is that in times to come Scotland will be representing itself on the global stage as an independent country, but that, ultimately, will be a matter for the people of Scotland.’
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