EDINBURGH, May 19 — British Prime Minister Theresa May today took her campaign for the June general election to Scotland, where she rejected nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for a seat at the Brexit negotiating table.
May promised to consult the devolved Scottish government if re-elected next month, but said: “I will be negotiating as the prime minister of the United Kingdom.”
Launching her Conservative party’s Scottish manifesto, she also reiterated that “now is the not the time” for a second “divisive” referendum on Scotland’s independence.
Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP), which dominates politics north of the border, has called for a fresh vote on independence before Britain leaves the European Union.
Scotland voted by a majority of 55 per cent to stay in the 28-member bloc in last year’s referendum, but was outvoted by the rest of the country.
“Give me the ability to strengthen Scotland’s hands in those negotiations, get a seat at the negotiating table and argue for Scotland’s place in the single market,” Sturgeon said this week.
But Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who joined May at the campaign event today, dismissed the idea.
“Given that she wants Scotland to leave the UK and she wants Scotland to be in the EU, you have to ask, Which side of the negotiating table does she want to be on?” she told AFP.
Scots rejected independence in a 2014 referendum by 55 per cent, and a new poll on Friday found that support for going it alone remains at 45 per cent.
The poll also put the Conservatives on course to win seven seats in Scotland in next month’s vote, which would be their best result since 1992.
The SNP’s tally would fall to 47 from 56.
May emphasised the importance of Britain’s constitutional ties in her speech Friday, saying: “This is a time to pull together, not apart.”
The Conservative manifesto says an independence vote “cannot take place until the Brexit process has played out, and it should not take place unless there is public consent for it to happen”.
SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson accused the Conservatives of arrogance.
“Theresa May flew into Edinburgh today to deliver one simple message to the people of Scotland—get back in your box,” he said. — AFP