John Nicholson, a former SNP MP, had BBC This Week panellists burst into laughter as he replied to question about Nicola Sturgeon’s future with an ominous prediction. Asked whether the Scottish First Minister could soon see her “endgame” similarly to Theresa May, Mr Johnson opted for a literal answer: “Well, we are all approaching the end at a different rate. The end is inevitable for all of us. Obviously, she’ll retire.”
Host Andrew Neil and other panellists were left in stitches, with the BBC presenter conceding Mr Nicholson had found “a good tactic not to answer my question.”
The SNP politician pointed out he had merely “answered your question directly,” as he added: “I think she is very secure in the position she has at the moment.
“I was at the party conference recently, a standing ovation for her – she’s popular. The SNP, I would say, is pretty united around Nicola Sturgeon.”
But recurring panellist Michael Portillo rained down on Mr Nicholson’s prediction with a double dig aimed at both the SNP and the Conservative Party.
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The former Tory MP said: “Standing ovations at party conferences is a dead sign that the leader is absolutely secure.
“We normally get rid of ours about seven weeks after.”
Nicola Sturgeon, a supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, this week pledged to “step up” her campaign for a new referendum on independence in Scotland as she admitted her position on Brexit would not change if Leave won for a second time.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I think at that point the struggle for the UK to Remain may be over but I’m not going to speculate beyond that.
“But certainly the struggle for Scotland as an independent country to Remain would be by no means over. Perhaps just stepping up a few gears.”
The Scottish First Minister renewed her anti-Brexit pledge last week ahead of the European elections and vowed to give Scotland a fresh vote on independence to ensure her country remains in the EU even if the rest of the UK left.
Ms Sturgeon, however, was reminded last Sunday large numbers of Scots had voted in favour of Brexit as a member of the BBC Debate Night audience warned the SNP voters felt they are being “talked down.”
The audience member said: “A million people in Scotland voted for Brexit during the referendum, which is more than voted for the SNP in the last general election.
“I understand the result isn’t what it seems but there is a strong feeling in Scotland. People in Scotland do want Brexit.