Nicola Sturgeon refuses to rule out 'unofficial' referendum

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for a Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London Britain

The SNP is continuing with its vote at Holyrood on Wednesday on the timings Nicola Sturgeon demanded.

They would be proving to Scotland that they were "getting on with the day job" to counter the charge their opponents make that they were obsessed only with the constitution.

LONDON-British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday rejected a call for a referendum on Scottish independence before Britain leaves the European Union - a move condemned as a "democratic outrage" by Scotland's nationalist leader.

But talk of the constitution is the only subject on everyone's lips.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Monday she would be seeking the devolved Scottish parliament's approval next week for a second vote on whether Scotland should separate from Britain.

At a briefing to journalists on Friday, a Downing Street spokesman said: "It [calling a referendum] is a reserved power and the PM has been clear that now is not the right time".

This has to happen as the constitution is reserved to Westminster under the Scotland Act.

Sturgeon said Scotland should have the chance to stay in the EU's lucrative single market and keep an open-door policy to immigrants after voting to remain, and has criticised May for failing to consult the Scottish government on her strategy.




"If Theresa May takes that stance she will be standing in the face of Scottish democracy and that is a very, very unstable and risky position for the Prime Minister to be in", Swinney said.

Where does that leave the First Minister?

The British government's Scotland minister, David Mundell, said May's administration "will not be entering into discussions or negotiations" about a new referendum on Scottish independence. "It is a union between all of our citizens, whoever we are and wherever we're from".

Asked a fourth time by host John Humphreys, he said: 'If Theresa May takes that stance she will be standing in the face of Scottish democracy'. "In particular we will set out how to secure our relationship with Europe, build a stronger economy, a fairer society, and forge a genuine partnership of equals across these islands".

"Will she give a clear and unambiguous statement today that she will respect the wishes of Scotland's national Parliament?"

As things stand, and we have yet to hear Ms Sturgeon's conference speech - that comes tomorrow - the battle is for public opinion.

The former Labour prime minister will suggest the Scottish government be given the power to set Value-Added Tax rates and sign worldwide treaties. But if it's only fair to be able to conclude Brexit negotiations before a referendum, then it's only fair that the people should have their say in the months after that, before the United Kingdom leaves the EU.

May added that while the road before the country may be uncertain at times, she believes, with the British people, that it leads towards a brighter future for the nation's children and grandchildren.

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