Scotland could be independent in five years, First Minister John Swinney says | Politics News

Scottish independence could be delivered within five years, Scotland’s new first minister has told Sky News.

John Swinney, who became first minister this week, said he believes the country could split from the rest of the UK in five years thanks to Brexit and the cost of living crisis.

He told Sky News: “I think independence can be delivered in that timescale because the arguments for it are compelling.

“If we look at two of the biggest issues we face as a country in Scotland; the effect of the cost of living and the implications of Brexit.

“Both of those are major strategic factors that are doing severe economic and social damage to Scotland because of bad decisions taken in Westminster.

“And independence is the answer to that.”

He said Scotland was “forced out of the European Union against our will” as a majority in the country voted to remain.

“If we’d been an independent country, we will be able to take part in Europe and not have all the damaging disruption that we faced,” he added.

Mr Swinney was deputy first minister under Nicola Sturgeon, who was leader of the SNP and first minister from 2014 to 2023 when she stepped down.

Ms Sturgeon wanted to use the next general election as a de facto second referendum on independence after the Supreme Court ruled a vote cannot be held without the UK government’s consent – but it is yet to be seen what Mr Swinney favours.

The new first minister has faced questions over his stance on gender recognition after MSPs voted in 2022 to pass a bill to make it simpler for people to change their gender.

However, the UK government blocked the bill from being made into law and the Supreme Court rejected a request by the Scottish government for a judicial review.

Asked if he would be fighting to push the bill through, Mr Swinney said: “The reality of the situation we face is that the Supreme Court has said that we can’t legislate in that area. We can’t take forward that legislation.”

He made former leadership contestant Kate Forbes his deputy this week, which has caused some consternation within the party as she previously said she would have voted against gay marriage but would not seek to overturn the law if she became first minister.

But Mr Swinney sought to reassure the LGBT community, saying he had voted for gay marriage and introduced inclusive education into schools when he was education secretary.

He added: “I think what’s the most important thing that I can see is that to LGBT people in our society, the Scottish government is on their side.

“We have been on their side and we will be on their side in the years to come.”

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