Scotlandâ€™s ruling party took a step forward in its push for a second independence referendum Saturday by appointing a new political director to lead its campaign to break from the United Kingdom.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was â€œdelightedâ€ that Michael Russell, her nominee, would be spearheading the Scottish National Partyâ€™s (SNP) pro-independence agenda.
Russell, the Scottish governmentâ€™s former cabinet secretary for the constitution, will â€œoversee the development of the partyâ€™s independence campaign, as we look ahead to #indyref2 later in this Parliament,â€ Sturgeon tweeted.
Russell said that he was â€œpleased to take on the political direction of the independence work,â€ and added that he was â€œlooking forwardâ€ to support the partyâ€™s commitment to a â€œpositive, inclusive and successfulâ€ referendum campaign.
In an interview with POLITICO last month, Russell, who stepped down from his previous position this year, said any eventual talks on Scottish independence would be conducted differently to the U.K.â€™s Brexit negotiations, which he described as â€œa complete mess.â€ He added that Brexit had â€œdrawn attention to the advantages of being in the EU.â€
His confirmation comes amid a renewed push by Sturgeon to secure independence from the U.K., which she has described as â€œthe will of the country,â€ rather than â€œjust a demand of me or of the SNP.â€
Sturgeon, who was re-elected last month, wants a referendum before the next Scottish parliament elections scheduled for 2026, but the British government is opposed to holding such a vote.
In the last referendum in 2014, the anti-independence camp won with 55.3 percent of the vote, but polls show the gap has narrowed significantly.