My Position Won't Change On Indy Vote, Insists Theresa May

27 March 2017, 15:13

Prime Minister Theresa May Scottish Conservative C

The Prime Minister has said her position will not change on Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second independence referendum by spring 2019.

Theresa May would not be drawn on whether a vote could take place further into the future, restating her view that ''now is not the time'' for another ballot.

The First Minister wants the powers to hold a referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, when she says the UK's Brexit deal will become clear.

Speaking during a visit to Glasgow, and ahead of talks with Ms Sturgeon, Mrs May said a vote during that time frame would be ''unfair'' to the Scottish people.

''My position is very simple and it hasn't changed,'' she said.

''It is that now is not the time to be talking about a second independence referendum and that's for a couple of reasons.

''First of all, now is the point when we are triggering Article 50, we're starting negotiations for leaving the European Union. Now is the time when we should be pulling together, not hanging apart. Pulling together to make sure we get the best possible deal for the whole of the UK.

''Also I think it would be unfair on the people of Scotland to ask them to make a significant decision until all the facts were known, at a point where nobody knows what the situation is going to be.

''My position isn't going to change, which is that now is not the time to be talking about a second independence referendum.''

The Prime Minister's visit to Scotland comes a day before the Scottish Parliament is expected to pass a vote in favour of seeking another independence referendum, and two days before she triggers the Brexit process.

It follows a series of talks between UK ministers and those from the devolved nations over the UK's approach to leaving the EU.

Scottish ministers say there has been no clarity over how Scotland's interests will be represented as the Brexit process gets under way, and the role the Scottish Government will play in negotiations.

Mrs May said: ''There have been considerable discussion at various levels, at official level, at ministerial level, with the Scottish Government and indeed with the other devolved administrations across the United Kingdom about their interests and their concerns as we look ahead to triggering Article 50 and the negotiations for Brexit that will follow.''

She said there are areas where the UK and Scottish governments are in agreement, such as workers' rights.

''What I want to do is ensure that we do get the best possible deal for the whole of the United Kingdom, that's for people and businesses across the whole of the United Kingdom, including people in Scotland,'' she added.

A spokeswoman for Scotland's Brexit minister Michael Russell said: ''There are clearly a lot of areas where we hope the Prime Minister intends to provide answers.

''Given the lack of engagement and the failure of the UK Government to seek an agreed approach or to support staying in the single market, which are at the heart of our compromise proposals, it is appearing that this is another area where a Tory Prime Minister intends to simply dictate the rules and expect people in Scotland to go along with it.

''We believe it should be for the people of Scotland to decide their own future, which is why we will return to Parliament on Tuesday to seek a mandate to begin discussions on a referendum that will put Scotland's future in the people's hands.''