Sunday 19 November 2017

Theresa May met with Nicola Sturgeon and they are still at odds over second Scottish independence poll

By Georgia Humphreys

The First Minister wants to hold another vote on leaving the UK between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

You’re probably aware that during a visit to Scotland, Prime Minister Theresa May met with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the subject of a second independence referendum.

The meeting came just a day before the Scottish Parliament is expected to pass a vote in favour of seeking another independence referendum, and two days before May is due to trigger Article 50.

Here’s everything you need to know about the discussions between the two leaders.

Remind us again where the two leaders stood on the subject of a second referendum before the meeting?

Sturgeon wants to hold another vote on leaving the UK between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 – a timescale May is set to reject.

May has said a referendum during that period would be “unfair” to voters because they would not have all the necessary information to make a choice.

Ahead of the meeting, May told reporters her position will not change on Sturgeon’s call for a referendum by spring 2019.

So, what has Sturgeon said about it all following the meeting?

She said the Prime Minister has no rational argument against a second independence referendum.

Sturgeon insisted the Prime Minister had been clear the terms of the UK’s divorce from the EU and the details of a new free trade deal would be known within two years.

“I think it makes it very difficult for the Prime Minister to maintain a rational opposition to a referendum in the timescale I have set out,” Sturgeon said.

“I think she has got a perfectly rational opposition to a referendum now, which is why I am not proposing it.

“But I think based on the discussion today I would struggle to see what her rational opposition to it would be in the timescale we have been talking about.”

What has Sturgeon said she will do if her call for another referendum is formally rejected?

Sturgeon said: “I will set that out in due course. I actually have views in my mind around that.

“If their position remains as it is right now, I will set out to Parliament what I think the next steps should be.”

And has May’s position on the referendum changed?

Nope. She said: “My position is very simple and it hasn’t changed.

“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.”

Later in an address to staff at the Department for International Development in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, she said: “As Britain leaves the European Union and we forge a new role for ourselves in the world, the strength and stability of our Union will become even more important.”

Any notable reaction to the news which we should know about?

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “Nicola Sturgeon has once again failed to act today as a First Minister for all of Scotland.

“We are just about to enter the most important international negotiations this country has taken part in for decades, and all the First Minister can think about is raising a timetable for a referendum that most people in Scotland don’t want.

“The SNP has shown that it is interested only in process rather than substance.

“Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear she no longer wants to govern for everyone in Scotland, she just wants to use meetings with the Prime Minister to further her campaign for separation.”

Press Association

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