HANDS OFF OUR BREXIT, NICOLA! Historic MPs' Vote Paves Way for Us to Quit EU as Revolt Collapses; but Sturgeon Cynically Demands New Scots Poll Just as We Leave Europe; Earning Her a Stinging Rebuke from a Furious Theresa May

Daily Mail (London), March 14, 2017 | Go to article overview

HANDS OFF OUR BREXIT, NICOLA! Historic MPs' Vote Paves Way for Us to Quit EU as Revolt Collapses; but Sturgeon Cynically Demands New Scots Poll Just as We Leave Europe; Earning Her a Stinging Rebuke from a Furious Theresa May


Byline: Jason Groves Political Editor

THERESA May was last night poised to emphatically reject Nicola Sturgeon's timetable for a second vote on Scottish independence, amid fears it could undermine Brexit.

Scotland's First Minister yesterday declared she will push for another referendum just before the UK leaves the EU.

She insisted Scots deserved a 'real choice' over EU membership and threatened to throw a grenade into Brexit talks by holding the vote between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

It provoked Mrs May to accuse her of 'playing politics with the future of our country'.

The Prime Minister said the SNP had 'tunnel vision' on independence and urged Miss Sturgeon to focus on improving Scotland's public services rather than 'more uncertainty and division', adding: 'Politics is not a game.' Government sources last night indicated Mrs May was set to insist any second independence vote is held after Britain has left the EU.

It followed her crushing defeat of a threatened revolt in the Commons as MPs decisively threw out two amendments to the Brexit Bill made by the Lords. Peers were set to back Turn to Page 2 Continued from Page One down, allowing the Bill to be given royal assent this morning.

Yesterday a source described Miss Sturgeon's intervention as 'unpatriotic' and said the proposed timing could 'undermine negotiations' by allowing Brussels to play Scotland off against the rest of the UK. Another said allowing a referendum during Brexit talks could 'only damage the chances of getting the best deal'. A Government spokesman described the suggested timetable as the 'worst possible'. The warning came as the SNP's case for independence was undermined by a series of revelations, including:

Polls showed a 'clear majority' of Scots do not want a second referendum, less than three years after voting by 55-45 to remain in the UK;

Brussels made it clear Scotland would have to re-apply to join the EU if it separates from the UK - potentially leaving it outside its biggest markets for years;

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said an independent Scotland would have to raise taxes or cut spending to replace the huge subsidies it receives from England;

Business leaders criticised the move, with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce saying the 'continual uncertainty' would have a 'material impact upon businesses in Scotland';

There were warnings about the implications for Scotland's defences as Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said it would have to re-apply to the security pact.

In 2014, the SNP said the referendum was a 'once in a generation' chance. But Miss Sturgeon has been threatening a second referendum since last June when Scotland voted to remain in the EU.

Speaking at her official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, the SNP leader said she would ask the Scottish Parliament to begin the legal process next week.

Although the SNP lost its majority at Holyrood, it has the support of the Greens on the issue, meaning Miss Sturgeon is likely to win parliamentary backing. …

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HANDS OFF OUR BREXIT, NICOLA! Historic MPs' Vote Paves Way for Us to Quit EU as Revolt Collapses; but Sturgeon Cynically Demands New Scots Poll Just as We Leave Europe; Earning Her a Stinging Rebuke from a Furious Theresa May
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