UK's May Seeks to Stem Scottish Support for Independence

Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May will press her case on Monday for a strong union in Scotland, using a visit to staff working on international aid to say "there is no limit to what we can do" when Britain works together.

May is battling to keep the United Kingdom together after Britain's vote to leave the European Union revealed deep divisions, with England and Wales voting for Brexit, while Scotland and Northern Ireland supported staying in the bloc.

Just days before the British leader launches the formal divorce procedure with the EU, May wants to try to stem demands in Scotland for a new independence referendum by promising to get a Brexit deal that will suit all parts of the country.

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The Union flag and the Scottish Saltire fly at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland, March 21. Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Due to visit staff from the Department for International Development in East Kilbride in southern Scotland before meeting First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, May will also say Britain will not turn its back on the world as it negotiates Brexit.

"Indeed, we are going to take this opportunity to forge a more global Britain. The closest friend and ally with Europe, but also a country that looks beyond Europe to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike," she will say, according to excerpts of a speech released by her office.

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Referencing British support for programs in Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Syria and Afghanistan, May will say "UK Aid is a badge of hope for so many around the world."

"And it says this: that when this great union of nations—England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—sets its mind on something and works together with determination, we are an unstoppable force," she said.

May is a fierce unionist and hopes to stall plans by Sturgeon to hold a new referendum on independence in late 2018 or early 2019 after the country voted against breaking away in 2014 by 55 to 45 percent.

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A debate in the Scottish parliament before voting on Sturgeon's proposal was suspended last week when an attacker, later identified as British-born Khalid Masood, plowed his car into pedestrians and tried to force his way into parliament in London, killing four. He was shot dead. 

That debate is due to resume on Tuesday.

On Monday May will appeal to a sense of history and shared values to make her case for a strong union in Scotland, saying Britain has a "proud shared heritage.

"And on that foundation we have built a country where we share the challenges that we face, and bring all the expertise, ingenuity and goodwill we share across this union to bear to tackle them," she will say.

"So as Britain leaves the European Union, and we forge a new role for ourselves in the world, the strength and stability of our union will become even more important.

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