May and Sturgeon in war of words over Scottish independence

Nicola Sturgeon hit out at the British PM, saying she "is not yet elected by anyone"

May and Sturgeon in war of words over Scottish independence

File photo of Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House in Edinburgh. Picture by: Andrew Milligan/PA Archive/PA Images

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have been engaged in a war of words over the prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum.

Yesterday, Ms Sturgeon said she plans to seek approval next week for a second independence vote.

The announcement comes less than two years after Scottish voters rejected the prospect of independence in September 2014.

Ms Sturgeon highlighted the challenges surrounding Brexit as a key motivation for a second referendum, saying the Scottish government's efforts to secure a compromise with the British government had been met with a "brick wall of intransigence".

Speaking in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon announced: "I will take the steps necessary now to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process – a choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit, or to become an independent country able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the UK and our own relationship with Europe.”

The vote would be held sometime between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, towards the end of Brexit negotiations between the EU and Britain. There is a two year timetable on discussions, but that can be extended if both parties agree.

The announcement in Edinburgh came on the same day politicians in Westminster passed legislation allowing Theresa May to trigger Article 50 and commence the UK's formal exit from the EU.

Responding to the Scottish First Minister's remarks yesterday, Mrs May said: "The tunnel vision that the [Scottish National Party] has shown today is deeply regrettable. It sets Scotland on a course for more uncertainty and division.

"Instead of playing politics with the future of our country, the Scottish government should focus on delivering good government and public services for the people of Scotland - politics is not a game."

"Not yet elected by anyone"

UK media reports this morning claimed that Mrs May is preparing to reject the demand for a second referendum.

Reports also suggested that Mrs May is considering setting a condition that the Scottish National Party must win an outright majority in Scottish elections in 2021 for a referendum to take place.

Responding to the reports, Ms Sturgeon compared her own mandate to that of the British Conservative government:

She added: "In addition, I was elected as [First Minister] on a clear manifesto commitment re #scotref. The [Prime Minister] is not yet elected by anyone."

Mrs May became Prime Minister after winning the Conservative leadership contest. The contest was triggered following the resignation of David Cameron only hours after the Brexit referendum result became clear.

In Westminster today, meanwhile, Mrs May again criticised the First Minister.

She warned that now is "not a moment to play politics or create uncertainty," and accused the SNP of "constitutional game-playing".

Mrs May also confirmed that she will trigger Article 50 by the end of March.