Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed plans for an independence referendum next year.
The first minister of Scotland said she wanted her country to be one that “welcomes refugees” in what appeared to be a dig at the UK government’s handling of Ukrainian refugees.
Asked by LBC whether the events in Eastern Europe have shifted her plans, she said: “My plans and my thinking hasn’t changed.”
“We, right now, should be reminded, above all else, how lucky we are to live in a free democracy where we can put forward our case for political constitutional change, argue that case passionately, whatever our views on that might be, and trust people to decide.”
‘A progressive country that welcomes refugees’
She added: “I support independence for a whole variety of reasons, but one of the motivations for my support for independence is to see Scotland play a bigger role, albeit as a small country, in building a more peaceful world, to be a progressive, constructive international partner, to be a progressive country that welcomes refugees.
“And sees Scotland as a place of sanctuary, a country that sees the benefits we stand to gain from having people come here and make a contribution to our society. And, actually, all of these issues right now, I think are brought into sharp focus by the tragedy that is unfolding in Ukraine.”
Sturgeon hit out at the UK government for “not doing anywhere near enough” for Ukrainian refugees, according to The National.
Sturgeon said “in the face of the horror engulfing Ukraine, words are not enough”, The Independent has reported, as Tory minister have rushed to declare their support for Ukraine but have been criticised for the slow and complicated response to actually allowing Ukrainians to come to the UK.
She told Holyrood on Tuesday that the UK government should follow the example of Ireland and the EU, and not put Ukrainian refugees through complicated visa application processes.
‘The UK’s response has fallen short’
She said: “In the past 10 days alone, more than two million people have already fled the horrors of war, that number is rising rapidly.
“The majority of those seeking refuge are women and children. So far, the UK’s response has fallen short.
“Today on International Women’s Day, I appeal to the UK Government to follow the example of Ireland and other EU countries. Refuge and sanctuary first, bureaucracy second.
“Let people in and do the paperwork afterwards. Let’s open, not just our hearts, but also our doors, our common humanity demands it.”
Meanwhile, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel told MPs that thousands have applied to come to the UK via the Ukraine family scheme visa.
But as of Tuesday, only 300 have been approved, with around 600 Ukrainian refugees reportedly stuck in Calais after being turned away for lack of paperwork – something which Patel denied.