Sturgeon to urge May to think again on independence vote

May has stoked anger among the Scottish nationalists by blocking their demands for a new independence referendum.

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: AFP

LONDON – Prime Minister Theresa May, about to trigger Brexit should think again about her refusal to discuss a new Scottish independence referendum, Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon will tell her Scottish National Party on Saturday.

May has stoked anger among the Scottish nationalists by blocking their demands for a new independence referendum before talks for Britain to leave the European Union end.

“(May) has time to think again and I hope she does. If her concern is timing then, within reason, I am happy to have that discussion,” Sturgeon, who also heads the devolved Scottish government, will say according to a text of her speech.

A vote in the Scottish parliament next week, where pro-independence parties have a majority, will almost certainly authorise Sturgeon to seek a legally binding vote on a new referendum. But under Britain’s constitutional arrangements, that vote would have to be signed off by the British Parliament.

May, facing two years of hugely complex talks with Britain’s soon to be erstwhile EU partners, has said “now is not the time” to discuss the matter of Scotland.

Last June’s vote to leave the EU has altered the political landscape and shaken the ties of the United Kingdom’s four nations. England, the UK’s most populous nation, and Wales voted to leave while the Scots and the Northern Irish wanted to keep their EU membership.

Faced with being taken out regardless, Scots must have a new choice, argue the nationalists.

Northern Ireland’s largest Irish nationalist party says it too wants a vote on splitting from Britain after the region voted to stay in the bloc.

May has been accused of telling Scotland what to do and ignoring its democratic process, something which may even increase support for Scottish nationalists.

Scots voted against independence in 2014 by a 10 point margin. But Sturgeon was elected last year on a manifesto which included the possibility of a new independence vote if there were a material change in circumstances “such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.”

“We can still decide which path we take,” Sturgeon will tell her party’s conference. “Whatever our different opinions on independence, we can all unite around this simple principle: Scotland’s future must be Scotland’s choice.”