SNP go to war with Theresa May over independence referendum
The prime minister’s new line is that ‘now is not the time’. And she's sticking to it.
Theresa May has prompted a tidal wave of anger from north of the border after rejecting Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second referendum on Scottish independence.
The prime minister did not rule out second referendum, despite being pressed on the point numerous times by ITV political editor Robert Peston.
But she repeatedly said that "now is not the time" – suggesting that if a vote was held it would it would have to take place after Brexit.
Sturgeon responded on Twitter by calling the prime minister’s decision “undemocratic”. The SNP leader and Scottish first minister added that it was “proof positive that the Tories fear the verdict of the Scottish people”.
The first minister’s spokesman then went further, telling journalists that seeking block a second referendum outright would be "a blunder of epic and historic proportions".
And former first minister Alex Salmond interrupted an energy debate in the Commons to let off steam about the prime minister’s "arrogance".
He then told the BBC that "no self-respecting Scot is going to take a Westminster prime minister undermining Scottish nationhood".
The Scottish Greens also hit out at May, with Ross Greer MSP, the party’s external affairs spokesman, insisting: “Scotland deserves to choose between the isolated, angry Brexit Britain planned by the Tories and putting our future in our own hands with independence. If a Tory Westminster government that Scotland did not elect seriously think they can block our right to choose - and that they can veto a decision of our elected parliament – they will only increase support for independence.”
He added: “Today’s comments underline the contemptuous attitude the Tories have toward Scotland.”
Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservative are opposed to a second referendum.
On Monday, Sturgeon said she would ask the Scottish parliament to back a formal request to the government for a new referendum to be held, between the autumn of 2018 and the spring of 2019.
May said today: “When the SNP government say that it’s the time to start talking about a second independence referendum, I say that just at this point, all our energies should be focused on our negotiations with the European Union about our future relationship…
“We should be putting all our energies into ensuring that we get that right deal for the UK and the right deal for Scotland in our negotiations with the European Union. That is my job as prime minister.
“Right now, we should be working together, not pulling apart. We should be working together to get that right deal for Scotland, that right deal for the UK. And so, for that reason, I say to the SNP now is not the time.”
When Peston pressed May on what she means by saying “now is not the time” for a second referendum, the prime minister repeated her line about how “now is not the time”.
Picture by: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images.