Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee has said it only supports the Referendums (Scotland) Bill on the provision that ministers ‘recognises the weight of evidence in favour of the Electoral Commission testing a previously used referendum question’.
The MSPs unanimously said Cabinet Secretary Mike Russell ‘must come to an agreement based on this evidence with the Electoral Commission prior to Stage 2’.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said:
“This unanimous decision is very welcome and MSPs deserve credit for recognising how important it is that voters are confident in the fairness of referendums.
“It’s a crushing blow for the SNP in its disgraceful attempts to rig any future referendum on leaving the UK.
“This Bill should never have been introduced in the first place, as it has taken up parliamentary time when barely a quarter of people in Scotland support a divisive second independence referendum within the SNP’s timeframe.
“But the SNP’s attempts to bypass the independent Electoral Commission were shameful.
“The Commission has been clear since 2016 that yes/no questions are unfair and has favoured more balanced remain/leave questions, and only 20 per cent of Scots believe the Commission should be bypassed.
“Mike Russell must now accept the unanimous decision of this committee; although it would be far better if the SNP takes the threat of an unwanted Scexit referendum off the table and focuses on improving our public services.”