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16 March 2017

Theresa May will not give Nicola Sturgeon a second Scottish referendum before Brexit

"Now is not the time," said the prime minister.

By Helen Lewis

Theresa May has ruled out a second Scottish independence referendum for the time being.

“Now is not the time,” said the British prime minister.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, had called on Monday for another poll, saying Scots should have a say on their future following May’s decision to seek a “hard Brexit”.

The prime minister has not ruled out a referendum altogether, but her announcement means that Sturgeon’s preferred timetable – between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019 – will not happen.

The UK is due to trigger article 50 before 31 March, starting the formal two-year process of leaving the EU.  

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May said: “When the SNP government say that now is the time to start talking about a second independence referendum, I say that just at this point all of our energies should be focused on our negotiations with the European Union about our future relationship.

“To be talking about an independence referendum would I think make it more difficult for us to be able to get the right deal for Scotland and the right deal for the UK. My message is clear – now is not the time. I think we should be working to get the right deal for Scotland and the UK with our future partnership with the European Union. “It would be unfair to the people of Scotland that they would be being asked to make a crucial decision without the information they need to make that decision.”

MSPs are due to vote next Wednesday on whether to seek the power to hold another referendum. It is expected that the Scottish Greens will vote with the SNP.

Now read David Torrance on the SNP’s calculations which led to Sturgeon’s call for a second referendum.