Scotland's Sturgeon to urge UK's May to think again on independence vote

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It perhaps says something about the times when a full-blown row between the Scottish and UK Governments about whether there should be a second referendum on Scottish independence is only one of the nominees for most significant constitutional event of the a year ago.

"At that point a fair, legal, agreed referendum - on a timescale that will allow the people of Scotland an informed choice - ceases to be just my proposal, or that of the SNP, it becomes the will of the democratically elected Parliament of Scotland", Sturgeon will say.

Nicola Sturgeon has refused to rule out holding an unofficial referendum on Scottish independence if Theresa May does not give her permission for a legally-binding vote.

The remarks upped the ante in a war of words over Scottish independence as Britain prepares for intense European Union exit talks.

"And it means ensuring that we act in the interests of the whole country - creating jobs and supporting cities, towns and communities right across our United Kingdom", she will say. "I choose to believe in Britain and that our best days lie ahead", May told hundreds of party members gathered for the conference.

The comments fuelled speculation that the SNP might hold an advisory referendum without Westminster consent, an option Alex Salmond flirted with in the 2007-11 parliament, but which would nearly certainly be buried by legal challenges.


"The fact that more Scottish voters backed Scotland staying in the United Kingdom in 2014 than supported the United Kingdom staying in the European Union in 2016, and that nearly half a million independence supporters actually backed Brexit previous year, seems to count for nothing".

"Any bid by the UK government to block the people of Scotland from making a choice will be untenable, undemocratic and totally unsustainable - and clearly shows that the UK Government recognises it is out of step with the Scottish people", she said in a statement.

Mrs May accused the party of ignoring those voters, as she said it "seems to count for nothing". The two parties hold a combined majority in the parliament. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, whose party has the second-largest bloc of seats, said the Tories would oppose the push for a new independence vote.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Monday that she wanted a fresh vote on leaving Britain, saying Scotland did not want the "hard Brexit" that May's Conservative government is pursuing. May said on Thursday that it is "not the time" for a Scottish breakaway campaign when Britain needs to unite to make a success of its divorce from the EU.

As things stand, and we have yet to hear Ms Sturgeon's conference speech - that comes tomorrow - the battle is for public opinion. But under Britain's constitutional arrangements, that vote would have to be signed off by the British parliament.

When the prime minister rejects that request, Sturgeon will accuse May of undermining Scottish sovereignty on behalf of a government with no mandate in Scotland, in the hope of doubling popular support for a new referendum to force May into a U-turn.

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