LEADING politicians in the Borders have reacted to Nicola Sturgeon’s surprise announcement this week that she will seek a second independence referendum as early as next year.

When the First Minister held a press conference on Monday morning, most expected her to make an announcement on Brexit. Instead she revealed plans for IndyRef2, which could be held between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.

John Lamont, Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, said: “The Borders overwhelmingly rejected separation in 2014 and I have little doubt their opinion has not changed. The announcement from the First Minister represents a broken promise to the people of Scotland when she repeatedly said the 2014 vote was a ‘once in a generation’ event.

“Nicola Sturgeon has today chosen the path of further division and further uncertainty. Far from trying to seek a compromise and standing up for Scotland, as the First Minister claims she has been doing, the SNP have been doing everything they can to further their obsession with separation.

“Leaving the EU will present challenges for Scotland, but none of these challenges are tackled by dragging Scotland out of the United Kingdom and a market worth four times as much as that of the EU.

He added: “Scots don’t want this referendum, instead they want the SNP Government to be focusing on improving our schools, hospitals and roads.

“When the First Minister brings these proposals to the Scottish Parliament I shall, without hesitation, vote against her request to break up the United Kingdom.”

Calum Kerr, SNP MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, said: “There is nothing inevitable about this process. If the Prime Minister is prepared to listen to the 64 per cent of Scots who voted to remain in Europe and seek compromise to accommodate these serious and pragmatic proposals, she could end this process tomorrow.

“Yet the UK government have shown nothing but intransigence. I’ve seen this lack of engagement, clarity and planning as the SNP’s frontbench spokesperson on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at Westminster.

“I have witnessed concern across the rural economy about the enormous impact that Brexit could have on our rural way of life. 

“That said, there’s no escaping the fact that voters in the Scottish Borders rejected independence by a considerable margin in 2014. 

“Some of you will have changed your view given this new situation we find ourselves in and some of you will remain committed to the position you held in 2014. All of you remain my constituents regardless.

“My utmost priority as your local MP is to represent the Scottish Borders: the part of the Scotland that I was born in and that I’m proud to call my home. My day to day work, campaigns and advocacy for the concerns of our region will always take precedence.

“As Borderers we have a long history of showing resilience in the face of historic changes that are outwith our control. I believe that the First Minister’s announcement today is about providing us with the option to shape the future on our own terms.

“Unlike in 2014, we know that change is coming either way. So the key question now is who we want to be in control of that change and what kind of country we want our children to grow up in.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who is MP for Tweeddale, said: “The Scottish Government should focus on delivering good government and public services for the people in Scotland. Politics is not a game.”