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SNP ‘out of touch’ with Scots on second independence vote, PM claims

Theresa May said in the run-up to Brexit the UK should be ‘pulling together not being driven apart’.

Theresa May spoke out against the prospect of a ‘divisive’ second independence referendum. (House of Commons/PA)
Theresa May spoke out against the prospect of a ‘divisive’ second independence referendum. (House of Commons/PA)

Theresa May has said the “last thing” the country wants is a second “divisive” referendum on Scottish independence.

The Prime Minister claimed SNP members demanding a fresh ballot on leaving the UK were “out of touch” with views of most Scots as she argued the UK should be “pulling together not being driven apart”

She made her opposition to a second independence vote clear ahead of a meeting with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon later on Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of those talks, the SNP said it was time for the PM to “stop blaming everybody else” for her Brexit difficulties and start listening to others.

The party has consistently argued for the UK to remain in the European single market and customs union after Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon has maintained voters north of the border must also have the option of having a fresh vote on independence when the details about Brexit are known.

With the UK due to leave the EU in just over two months and with no arrangements yet agreed for this, Ms Sturgeon said the country was “in the midst of the most serious political crisis in many decades”.

She added it was “entirely a mess of the Prime Minister’s own making”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “With time running out, Theresa May needs to stop blaming everybody else and start listening.”

Mrs May insisted it was time for the First Minister to listen to Scots after the country voted against independence in 2014.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions Mrs May said: “Scotland held a referendum in 2014. It was legal, it was fair, it was decisive.

“And the people clearly voted for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

“More than that, at the last General Election, the people of Scotland again sent a very clear message that they do not want a second divisive referendum.

“But the SNP sadly are out of touch with the people of Scotland.

“They haven’t yet heard that message – ‘the last thing we want is a second independence referendum’.

“The United Kingdom should be pulling together, not being driven apart.”

In response the First Minister tweeted: “It could be argued that it takes a staggering lack of self-awareness to accuse others of being out of touch when it is you who is ploughing on with a Brexit policy that is opposed by the vast majority of the Scottish people.”

Ms Sturgeon has already pledged to set out her views on the timing of a possible second independence referendum in a “matter of weeks”.

Speaking on Thursday, she said the “the sooner Scotland is independent the better for all of us”.

She argued: “I think it is essential, given the catastrophe that Scotland faces – to our economy, to our society, to living standards, to prospects for the next generation, to our reputation in the world – that the option of independence must be open to people in Scotland.

“When people in Scotland have the ability to choose independence, I believe that the country will opt to be an independent country.”

Ms Sturgeon will also use her latest talks with the Prime Minister to demand a second European referendum and for the Article 50 deadline to be extended to allow for this.

She said: “The time has come for the Brexit clock to be stopped through a formal extension of Article 50 to allow a second referendum on EU membership to be held.

“We simply cannot afford to be dragged any closer to the cliff edge of no deal – an outcome which should now be explicitly and definitively ruled out.

“With Brexit only a matter of weeks away, and with MPs emphatically rejecting the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, both Labour and the Tories must agree to put the question to the people.”

PA

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