Friday

18th Aug 2017

May to Scotland: 'Now is not the time' for referendum

  • "Right now we should be working together, not pulling apart," British PM May said about the possibility of a new independence vote after the one in 2014. (Photo: Valentina Pop)

British prime minister Theresa May said on Thursday (16 March) that "now is not the time" for a second Scottish independence referendum, because it would be unfair to ask people to decide on their future without knowing the exact details of the Brexit deal.

Her comments raised tensions again with Scotland, whose first minister on Monday unexpectedly called for a new independence vote for the end of 2018 or spring 2019. Nicola Sturgeon argued that the UK government is not open to hear Scotland's concerns over Brexit.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The Scottish question has posed a real dilemma for May who is going for a "hard Brexit", meaning giving up membership of the single market, something Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, does not agree with.

The Scottish government is launching the procedure to request a referendum next week, with a vote in parliament taking place on Wednesday, but it will be ultimately up to Westminster to allow the referendum to go ahead.

The war of words continued on Thursday as May said in an interview that "right now we should be working together, not pulling apart".

"We should be working together to get that right deal for Scotland, that right deal for the UK. That's my job as prime minister and so for that reason I say to the SNP - now is not the time," May argued, referring to Sturgeon's Scottish National Party.

"To look at this issue at this time would be unfair because people wouldn't have the necessary information to make such a crucial decision," she added.

Sturgeon responded by saying that she needs to start the procedure now for Scottish people to have the chance to choose a "different path", once the Brexit terms are clear and it is not too late to make a move.

She said on Twitter than by refusing a referendum, May's Conservative party "would effectively be blocking Scotland's right to choose when the Brexit terms clear". That "would be undemocratic", she said, arguing that the Scottish government had "a clear mandate".

She also questioned May's reasoning, saying that if the terms of Brexit are not clear by the autumn of 2018, the UK premier "must think her own timetable will fail".

The Scottish first minister also re-tweeted a post from an MP from the SNP, Callum McCaig, who pointed out that the EU had let the UK have a referendum on its membership. "That's the difference between Scotland's two Unions," McCaig said.

Sturgeon has managed to put pressure on May just days before she invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the official exit procedure from the EU, at the end of the month.

Scotland held an independence referendum in 2014, which resulted in voters choosing to remain part of the United Kingdom.

The EU has said that an independent Scotland would not automatically become an EU member state, and that it would have to re-apply normally for membership.

Scotland seeks new independence vote before Brexit

The Scottish first minister said the choice should be made between the fall of 2018 and spring 2019 as to whether Scots want to stay within the UK after a hard Brexit, or break away.

Scotland not giving up on EU membership

Scotland's EU spokesman has said the country is a special case that would not act as a precedent for places such as Catalonia or Corsica if it split from the UK to join the EU.

Column / Brexit Briefing

What’s the price of failing to prepare?

Theresa May is the strongest and most vulnerable prime minister in living memory. That may seem like a contradiction in terms for a leader who, if not obviously likable, is seen as highly competent.

EU agency relocation race starts with 23 cities

Cities from 21 countries have applied to host the two London-based EU agencies, which will have to be relocated after Brexit, with Luxembourg throwing its hat in for the banking authority.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides