Sat, 2 March 2024

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
Women in Westminster: In Conversation With Tulip Siddiq MP Partner content
Press releases

Theresa May rejects Nicola Sturgeon indyref2 demand and insists UK must 'pull together'

2 min read

Theresa May has rejected Nicola Sturgeon's demand for a second Scottish referendum, insisting now is the time for the UK to "pull together".

The First Minister announced that she wants to have another poll before the next Scottish Parliament elections in two years' time, so long as the UK has left the European Union.

In a statement to MSPs, Ms Sturgeon said she would bring forward legislation before the end of this year outlining the rules for another referendum.

But she also acknowledged that Westminster would need to grant a "Section 30 order" giving Holyrood the legal power to hold the vote.

"To rush into an immediate decision before a Brexit path has been determined would not allow for an informed choice to be made, however if we are to safeguard Scotland’s interests we cannot wait indefinitely," she said.

"That is why I consider that choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered in the lifetime of this parliament.

“If Scotland is taken out of the EU the option of a referendum on independence within that timescale must be open to us. That would be our route to avoiding the worst of the damage Brexit will do."

But the Prime Minister's official spokesman made clear that Mrs May would not support any moves to hold indyref2, and said the result of the first one - which was held in 2014 and saw 55% of Scots back staying in the UK - should be respected.

He said: "As we have been repeatedly clear, Scotland already had an independence referendum in 2014 and voted decisively to remain in the UK. Our position hasn’t changed. Both sides agreed to respect the result of the 2014 referendum.” 

The spokesman added: "Now is the time for the UK to be pulling together." 

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said Ms Sturgeon's timing was down to the fact that the SNP's spring conference takes place in Edinburgh this weekend.

"The First Minister is using this Parliamentary platform for a party platform, and in that she is devaluing the office which she holds," he said.

The Scottish government argues that it has a mandate for a fresh referendum before the 2021 Holyrood election since a majority of MSPs - from the SNP and Greens - were elected on manifestos in 2016 to hold one if Scotland was pulled out of the EU against its will.

Scotland voted by 62% to 38% in favour of remaining in the bloc a month later, while the UK as a whole voted to leave.

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe


Political parties