Mon, 15 August 2022

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Theresa May slaps down Nicola Sturgeon over second independence referendum call

Theresa May slaps down Nicola Sturgeon over second independence referendum call
3 min read

Downing Street has dismissed a fresh demand from Nicola Sturgeon for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

The Scottish First Minister today said it would be "absurd and anti-democratic" for Westminster to block another vote on the country going it alone - despite any new referendum requiring legal agreement with the UK government.

Ms Sturgeon - who has promised to outline her plans for independence once the detail of any Brexit deal Theresa May strikes with the EU becomes clear - told the Today programme she was "first minister of a government elected on a clear mandate for a referendum in these circumstances".

She added: "Theresa May, the Tories, Labour, they are absolutely entitled to oppose Scottish independence; that’s their democratic right but to argue that they should go beyond that and stand in the way of people in Scotland having the right to choose is a deeply anti-democratic argument and I don’t think it’s one that over the medium- to long-term can hold."

But the Prime Minister's spokesperson said: "We've made our position on this repeatedly clear. Scotland already had an independence referendum just four years ago and voted decisively to remain in the UK.

"This should be respected. As the Prime Minister has said, now is not the time for a a second independence referendum, now is the time for the United Kingdom to be pulling together to get the right deal for the United Kingdom and the right deal for Scotland in our negotiations."

The row came as the SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford vowed to cause "maximum disruption to the Tory government’s agenda" as Mrs May seeks to find support in the Commons for any Brexit deal she strikes with the EU.

He told the party's annual conference in Glasgow: "The SNP will not sit back and allow Scotland to be dragged out of the single market and customs union against its will. We will not be complicit in a blind - or a no-deal Brexit.

"The Tories are on a reckless mission to trash our economy. Their self-destructive policies on Brexit, austerity and immigration threaten serious and lasting harm."

A poll commissioned by the party over the weekend found that voters would be split down the middle on Scottish independence if the UK quits the EU.

The survey found that 50% of Scots would back independence after Brexit, with the rest opting to stay in the UK.

But support for Scotland going it alone would rise to 52% under a no-deal Brexit scenario, the poll found.

In 2017, the Scottish parliament voted to give Ms Sturgeon the authority to start talks with Westminster on a second Scottish independence referendum before the UK leaves the EU.

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