WE asked Scottish independence supporters how they feel about the Government's Budget announcement that the £20 million budget for a second independence referendum will be reallocated to support vulnerable people against rising energy bills.

It comes after the Supreme Court's ruling that Scotland needs Westminster's consent to hold indyref2 ruled out a legal vote being put forward next year.

At the end of the 2023/24 Budget, acting Finance Secretary John Swinney explained that the £20m, which had been earmarked for indyref2, would instead be spent on extending the fuel insecurity fund.

Swinney said the Scottish Government still believed Scots had a right to vote on the country’s future.

Here's what campaigners had to say...

Believe in Scotland:

Believe in Scotland founder Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp said: "With the referendum route to independence closed – at least for the time being – the SNP were between a rock and a hard place on this.

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“They could have kept the money ringfenced but would have been accused of holding back monies that could have helped heat people's homes during the cost of living crisis and a bitter winter. However, having done this, some will accuse them of giving up on independence or at least on a referendum."

He went on: "On balance, this is a smart move as long as they make it absolutely clear that they are committed to fighting the next UK General Election seeking a clear 'negotiate and then declare independence' mandate."

A Scottish Greens activist

One Scottish Greens activist told The National "this will annoy exactly the right people on both sides of the constitutional divide".

They added: "Labour and the Tories will have to stop pretending every budget shortfall can be filled by the money set aside for referendum planning, and Alba supporters will be spitting feathers saying that this shows the Scottish Government aren't serious about independence."

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SNP activists

Marcus Carlaw, vice-convener of SNP Kelvin and an MP's staffer, argued that the fiscal move makes “perfect sense”.

He said: "Re-allocating the £20 million that was set aside for an independence referendum to the fuel insecurity fund makes perfect sense. There is not going to be a referendum next year due to the Supreme Court ruling.

"The Scottish Government will continue to release their updated prospectus papers in the months ahead and it’s up to activists to ensure we continue to win over hearts and minds ahead of the General Election."

Sinead Collins, an independence activist in Edinburgh, agreed with the move, saying: “I personally think it is the right thing to do. We can't legally hold one next year anyway and people are in danger of freezing to death. Plus it removes the Labour attack line that we're all zealots.”

The Common Weal

Amanda Burgauer, executive director of Common Weal, said the debate on whether SNP are committed to independence would not be happening if the party had not rushed into allocating the funds initially, and agreed with the reallocation.

She said: “It might have been preferable for the Scottish Government to have clarified the legality of its plans before making them public, saving such an unhelpful focus on this sum of money, but the second the Supreme Court ruling was announced, it was clear that the money couldn’t be spent on an independence referendum so this is a worthy use of that money.”

Dumfries and Galloway Pensioners for Indy

Ian Waugh, a member of Dumfries and Galloway Pensioners for Indy, said “there's no shortage of talent and commitment” in the wider independence movement and hopes the SNP want to work with Yes groups in the originally planned timescale.

He said: “We can't afford more delays in breaking free from Westminster's clutches. It's good that more money is going into fuel poverty payments, which are desperately needed by many – but I hope there's an intention to recruit the wider indy movement to do the work that would have been covered by that £20m.”

South of Scotland Independence Movement

Members of the South of Scotland Independence Movement said they consider the reallocation a “very important move”. The group encouraged the change, which they hope to mitigate the impacts of Tory policies.

SSIM further added: “South Scotland has some of Scotland’s most deprived areas and suffers greatly from fuel poverty. We hope the budget announced today will go some way to improve lives here.

"The Scottish Government is working to improve lives across the nation as they fund the expansion of free school meals, programmes to help families heat their homes, as well as increase funding for social security and they, as well as local Yes groups like SSIM, will continue to work towards securing Scotland’s independence.”