Nicola Sturgeon would lose independence referendum, says Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson

Bill Etheridge and Nicola Sturgeon

The latest clash between May and Sturgeon comes as the first minister is expected to announce plans for a second independence referendum when the PM triggers Article 50, starting the UK's exit negotiations with the European Union later this month.

The Conservatives are urging voters in the Scottish local elections to back them to send a signal to the SNP not to hold a new referendum.

Downing Street is already preparing for another vote on Scotland's future - and Mrs May's speech could be taken as the opening salvo of a battle which, alongside Brexit, may shape politics north of the border for years.

She accused Sturgeon of "twisting the truth" and "playing politics" at the expense both of the United Kingdom and the Scottish people.

Mrs May will say that she is focused on "strengthening and sustaining the bonds that unite us" and that keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom is a "personal priority".

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly raised the prospect of calling for another independence vote in the wake of the UK's vote to leave the European Union, and is expected to move towards doing so at the SNP conference this month. In return the United Kingdom government has so far been one of obstinacy and intransigence.

And she insisted people in Scotland wanted a government focused on the "issues that matter to them day to day".




But speaking to the BBC, May prime minister refused state whether or not she would grant permission for a second referendum on independence.

May said that "time and again the benefits of the Union - of doing together, collectively, what would be impossible to do apart - are clear".

"While the SNP propose that decision-making should remain in Brussels, we will use the opportunity of Brexit to ensure that more decisions are devolved back into the hands of the Scottish people".

"Politics is not a game and the management of devolved public services in Scotland is too important to be neglected", May will say in Glasgow, according to excerpts of the speech from the Conservative Party.

"Her government has no mandate in Scotland, and no democratic basis to take us out of Europe and the single market against our will".

The British government could reject a request from Scotland for a second vote, but this would only increase tensions with Edinburgh. In a speech to the Scottish Tory conference in Glasgow, May attempted to turn the tables on Sturgeon.

"Before the Scottish election Nicola Sturgeon said if she didn't move public opinion she would have, even by her own measure, she would have no right to call another one".

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