British PM appeals for United Kingdom stability amid Brexit preparations

04 March, 2017, 01:00 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Bill Etheridge and Nicola Sturgeon

"It is hugely ironic for Theresa May to accuse others of treating politics like a game - this is a Prime Minister who treats European Union nationals as bargaining chips, and who gambles the future of United Kingdom industry, pitting companies against each other as we move closer towards a hard Tory Brexit cliff edge", SNP Westminster Leader Angus Roberson MP said.

Declining standards in education are "a scandal" and the direct result of 10 years of the SNP being in power, she will tell delegates.

Signalling there was now a widening gulf between the pro-UK parties over new powers for the Scottish parliament, with Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats calling for a federal UK, May said the original devolution arrangements were founded on membership of the EU. And I think in 2014 the people of Scotland voted to stay within the United Kingdom. She added: "The overriding aim for everything that we do when we make those decisions is to ensure that we do not damage the important single market of the United Kingdom".

Further powers Ms May said she would not seek to strip the devolved administrations of powers they now enjoy but her rejection of the repatriation of further powers from Brussels to Holyrood is a challenge to Ms Sturgeon, who has threatened a second referendum on Scottish independence.

The First Minister insists she has a "cast iron mandate" for such a vote, after the SNP Holyrood election manifesto in 2016 said a second referendum could be held if there was a material change in circumstances from the 2014 vote, such as Scotland being removed from the European Union against its wishes. In return the United Kingdom government has so far been one of obstinacy and intransigence.

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May will attack Surgeon at her conference speech But Mrs May said: "I am confident about the future of our United Kingdom and optimistic about what we can achieve together as a country".

In an interview with The Times, the Scottish Tory leader suggested that Holyrood may be denied the power to decide cash handouts to farmers, despite agriculture being wholly devolved. May declined to give a yes or no answer when asked if she would grant Sturgeon a second independence referendum.

She told presenter Gary Robertson: "She [Nicola Sturgeon] also said that she would only have a right to call one if she changed public opinion". "They don't want a referendum, they want the SNP government to get on with the day job".

The British government could reject a request from Scotland for a second vote, but this would only increase tensions with Edinburgh.

As Theresa May prepares to address the party faithful in Glasgow, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson insisted the case for independence was "weaker" than in 2014.

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