Refusal by the UK prime minister to discuss an independence referendum would “shatter beyond repair” the UK’s constitutional structure, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told her Scottish National Party (SNP) on Saturday.
Sturgeon pledged to press on with plans to hold a new Scottish referendum as announced earlier last week, deepening a standoff with the UK government.
Sturgeon expects to get authorization from the devolved Scottish parliament on Wednesday to seek the terms for a new secession vote, aiming for a date once the terms for Brexit are clear, but before Britain leaves the EU.
“To stand in defiance of that [Scottish parliamentary authorization] would be for the [UK] prime minister to shatter beyond repair any notion of the UK as a respectful partnership of equals,” Sturgeon said. “Scotland’s future will be in Scotland’s hands.”
Under the UK’s constitutional arrangements, Britain’s parliament needs to sign off on any legally binding vote in Scotland.
British Prime Minister Theresa May last week told Sturgeon that “now is not the time” for a new choice on independence as divorce talks between London and its erstwhile EU partners get under way.
Although May did not deny a vote outright, Scottish nationalists predict her words could build support for secession.
“[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 said.
Sturgeon contrasted an image of an open and progressive Scotland against May’s goal of limiting immigration across the UK.