Scotland’s ruling party appoints new independence campaign chief

First Minister Sturgeon steps up push for referendum.

Scotland’s ruling party appoints new independence campaign chief

Scotland’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 “delighted” that Michael Russell, her nominee, would be spearheading the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) pro-independence agenda.

Russell, the Scottish government’s former cabinet secretary for the constitution, will “oversee the development of the party’s independence campaign, as we look ahead to #indyref2 later in this Parliament,” Sturgeon tweeted.

Russell said that he was “pleased to take on the political direction of the independence work,” and added that he was “looking forward” to support the party’s commitment to a “positive, inclusive and successful” 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.’s Brexit negotiations, which he described as “a complete mess.” He added that Brexit had “drawn attention to the advantages of being in the EU.”

His confirmation comes amid a renewed push by Sturgeon to secure independence from the U.K., which she has described as “the will of the country,” rather than “just a demand of me or of the SNP.”

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.