- British Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected Scottish National Party’s call for a second independence referendum.
- May argues a new referendum in Scotland would hurt the entire UK’s chances of securing a better Brexit deal with the EU.
- She has not ruled out explicitly another Scottish referendum in the future.
The British government is going to reject the motion for a second independence referendum for Scotland, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has declared.
May’s announcement came after earlier this week Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the Scottish government’s intention to seek a second referendum for independence from the UK.
In their first independence referendum, in September 2014, the Scots voted 55% to 45% in favor of remaining in the UK.
However, this was before the majority of the Brits (52% to 48%) voted in favor of Brexit, Britain’s exit from the European Union, in the June 2016 referendum.
In the 2016 Brexit referendum, Scotland voted 62% “Remain” vs. 38% “Leave”.
‘Bright Future’ Together
Arguing that holding a new Scottish independence referendum in 2018-2019, as Nicola Sturgeon has demanded, would hurt Britain’s chances to secure a better Brexit deal with the European Union, May categorically rejected Sturgeon’s motion.
“Our precious union of nations is the most successful that the world has ever seen. We’ve been joined together for over 300 years. We’ve worked together, we’ve prospered together, we’ve fought wars together. And we have a bright future,” the British Prime Minister told the BBC on Thursday.
As May is about to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty on the UK’s exit from the European Union before the end of March, she vowed to “fight for every person, every family, every business across the United Kingdom” in the upcoming divorce talks with the EU.
“Just at this point all of our energies should be focused on our negotiations with the European Union,” the Prime Minister stated.
“To talk about an independence referendum would make it more difficult to get the right deal for Scotland and for the UK,” she insisted.
The British Prime Minister is certain that asking the Scottish people to make a decision about leaving or remaining in the UK in 2018 or 2019 would be “unfair” since they would be lacking the necessary information to do so.
“Right now we should be working together, not pulling apart, to get that right deal. For that reason, I say to the Scottish National Party, ‘Now is not the time’,” May concluded.
Her wording, however, suggested that she did not rule out completely another Scottish independence referendum in the future.
Ruth Davidson, leader of the Tories (the British Conservative Party) in Scotland, is also quoted as saying that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for an independence referendum by the spring of 2019 would be rejected “conclusively”.
Davidson further argued that a second Scottish independence referendum should only be held after the UK leaves the EU.
She told a media conference in Edinburgh that the people of Scotland should have the right to see how the UK was working after leaving the EU
“People should only be asked to make a judgment on whether to leave or remain within a 300-year-old union of nations when they have seen for themselves how that union is functioning following Brexit,“ Davidson said.
“They should also know what the alternative entails and we have seen no clarity from the Scottish National Party on even the basic questions of their proposition,“ she added.
On Monday, March 13, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that she would insist that a second Scottish independence referendum be held in late 2018 or early 2019, after the terms of Brexit, Britain’s exit, from the European Union, have become known.
“If the prime minister refuses to engage on the terms of a referendum before Brexit takes place then she is effectively trying to block the people of Scotland having a choice over their future,“ Sturgeon had argued in anticipation of London’s unwillingness to allow a second Scottish referendum so soon after the first one in 2014.
The recently published 2016 Scottish Social Attitudes report found that the idea of independence from the UK is more popular than ever among the Scots but that Euroscepticism in Scotland is also very high.