Arlene Foster counters Sturgeon and sets up anti-independence group
Arlene Foster outlines ‘fundamental problem’ of Protocol
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Baroness Arlene Foster is going head-to-head with Nicola Sturgeon, launching the Together UK foundation. The group, which the former DUP leader stresses is “non-party political”, is focussed on the “positive benefits of being together in the UK”. She told Express.co.uk that Britons have “heard a lot from separatists in Scotland or Northern Ireland”, but there hasn’t been “much conversation around the benefits of the union”.
Baroness Foster said separatists have a tendency to claim that an independent Scotland or Northern Ireland is “inevitable”, something which she said is “not true”.
The group will work with political parties on both sides of the spectrum, with the aim of “securing the union”.
She described Ms Sturgeon’s independence mission as being “divisive”, telling the SNP leader to focus on issues such as the “education system or the health system”.
She added: “That’s where the focus needs to be – not on divisive referendums.”
The foundation – run by a board of six women – will organise seminars, conferences and workshops across the UK, as well as publish papers and research – which Baroness Foster claimed will “benefit everybody”.
The Together UK Foundation launched on Wednesday evening, with representatives from a variety of mainstream political parties attending the launch event.
Speaking at the event, Baroness Foster said the foundation wants to be a “key partner” in the “generational renewal of the United Kingdom”.
She added: “The Foundation wants to offer the ideas for our best future such as how do we tackle the common problem of low productivity and how we deepen relationships with a rising economic superpower such as India.
“The Foundation wishes to engage with the public in every art and part of the UK.”
Baroness Foster added: “A common trait of the separatist factions is their belief that their victory is an historic inevitability. It enables them to carry on regardless of failure after failure but makes them inflexible on means.”
Earlier on Wednesday evening, Ms Sturgeon was dealt a major blow in her mission for independence as the Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish parliament “does not have the power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence.”
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Speaking about the verdict, Baroness Foster told Express.co.uk: “It’s not a surprise. It’s a very pleasing verdict obviously.
“We don’t believe there is a democratic basis for another referendum. It was said at the time that it was a once-in-a-generation event.
“Nicola Sturgeon has been trying to change that.”
Supreme Court President Lord Reed said the ruling on independence had been reaching quicker than expected as all five judges presiding over the case had been “unanimous” in their decision.
The court judgment said the Scotland Act – which outlines the scope of Scottish devolution – made clear Holyrood can’t pass bills that “relate to reserved matters”, including “the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England”.
It means proposed legislation by Ms Sturgeon to hold a vote next Autumn can no longer be passed through the Scottish Parliament.
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