Boris Johnson rejects request for second Scottish independence referendum

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Bute House in Edinburgh ahead of their meeting.
Boris Johnson has rejected Nicola Sturgeon’s call for Holyrood to be given the power to hold a fresh vote on independence (PA)

Boris Johnson has rejected a demand from Nicola Sturgeon to allow a second Scottish independence referendum.

In a letter to Scotland’s first minister, the PM said: “I cannot agree to any request for a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums.”

Ms Sturgeon immediately hit back at Mr Johnson, saying that the “Tories are terrified of Scotland’s right to choose”.

Ms Sturgeon has argued Brexit, which she says takes Scotland out of the EU against its will, gives the country grounds for another vote on independence.

But Mr Johnson said in a letter to Ms Sturgeon on Tuesday: “Another independence referendum would continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade, with Scottish schools, hospitals and jobs again left behind because of a campaign to separate the UK.

“It is time that we all worked to bring the whole of the United Kingdom together and unleash the potential of this great country.”

He also pointed to the 2014 referendum, in which Scotland voted by 55% to not be an independent country, saying Ms Sturgeon “made a personal promise” it would be “once-in-a-generation” vote.

Ms Sturgeon responded on Twitter: “Tories are terrified of Scotland’s right to choose - because they know that when given the choice we’ll choose independence. Tories have no positive case for the union - so all they can do is attempt to deny democracy. It will not stand.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, right, gestures to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, outside Bute House, ahead of their meeting, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Monday July 29, 2019.  Johnson made his first official visit as British prime minister to Scotland, pledging to boost "the ties that bind our United Kingdom" amid opposition from Scottish leaders to his insistence on pulling Britain out of the European Union with or without a deal. (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)
Prime minister Boris Johnson and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon pictured last July (PA via AP)

“The problem for the Tories is the longer they try to block democracy, the more they show the Westminster union is not one of equals and fuel support for independence. This response predictable - but also unsustainable and self defeating. Scotland will have the right to choose.”

In an official statement issued later, Ms Sturgeon added “the Westminster union cannot be sustained without consent” and that “democracy will prevail”.

In the House of Commons, Mr Johnson has regularly blocked SNP MPs’ calls for a second referendum.

He was even called out by the party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford last month when he was caught “playing” on his phone rather than listening to Mr Blackford’s call for independence.

Mr Johnson, putting his phone back in his pocket, muttered back: “Say something more interesting.”

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