UK Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeons plans for a new independence referendum before Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), the media reported.
Earlier on Monday, Sturgeon announced she would set the wheels in motion for a second referendum next week, and insisted the ballot should take place between late 2018 and early 2019 - while the Brexit negotiations are still going on, The Telegraph reported.
However, later on Monday night, the Prime Minister issued a stern rebuke, telling her “politics is not a game”, and accusing her of “tunnel vision”.
“The tunnel vision the SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party) has shown today is deeply regrettable; it sets Scotland on a course for more uncertainty and division, creating huge uncertainty,” May said.
“And this is at a time when the evidence is that… the majority of the Scottish people don’t want a second independence referendum.”
Sources close to May said she would not allow a referendum until several months after Britain’s EU exit, the Telegraph said.
Hours after May’s rebuke, the Downing Street made an unexpected announcement that the Prime Minister will not now invoke Article 50 -- formal procedure of leaving the EU -- before March 27.
The Article 50 Bill is expected to receive royal assent from the Queen on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Sturgeon said that she had been left with little choice than to offer the Scottish people, who voted to remain in the EU, a choice at the end of the negotiations of a “hard Brexit” or living in an independent Scotland, the Guardian reported.
“The UK government has not moved even an inch in pursuit of compromise and agreement. Our efforts at compromise have instead been met with a brick wall of intransigence,” the First Minister said, claiming that any pretence of a partnership of equal nations was all but dead.
The first referendum on Scottish independence took place on September 18, 2014.
The “No” side won, with 2,001,926 (55.3 per cent) voting against independence and 1,617,989 (44.7 per cent) voting in favour.