Theresa May has no 'rational' reason to block Scottish referendum, says Nicola Sturgeon
The First Minister said she would “struggle to see” what the Prime Minister’s “rational opposition” was to her timescale
Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May meeting last summer in Bute House
Theresa May has no "rational" reason to block a fresh Scottish referendum, Nicola Sturgeon has insisted, after talks between the pair ended in deadlock.
Sturgeon said the Prime Minister told her during their meeting in Glasgow that she hoped to agree a comprehensive Brexit deal in as little as 18 months.
The First Minister said that was in line with her plan to hold an independence referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.
Speaking after the meeting, she said: "I think it makes it very difficult for the Prime Minister to maintain a rational opposition to a referendum in the timescale I have set out.
"I think she has got a perfectly rational opposition to a referendum now, which is why I am not proposing it.
“But I think based on the discussion today I would struggle to see what her rational opposition to it would be in the timescale we have been talking about."
The Prime Minister has previously said that "now is not the time" for a new Scottish referendum, and a Downing Street source said that position had not changed.
"This doesn't change our position whatsoever," said the source. "We still think this is the wrong time to have a discussions about a referendum.
"Eighteen months is not enough time to give people an informed choice about what the options are. They need to see how (Brexit) works in practice."
Earlier, May had set out her vision for a “more united” post-Brexit Britain in a speech to Department for International Development staff in East Kilbride.
She said: "In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that means fully respecting, and indeed strengthening, the devolution settlements.
“But never allowing our Union to become looser and weaker, or our people to drift apart.
“So in those policy areas where the UK Government holds responsibility, I am determined that we will put the interests of the Union – both the parts and the whole – at the heart of our decision-making.”
In a major speech, Theresa May will say her number one aim is to "to take control of our borders, laws and money"
There are currently 39 pollution zones in Scotland, which have been declared by councils to be at risk of dangerous levels of air pollution
Speaking in Edinburgh the First Minister will argue that, with immigration essential to maintaining Scotland’s population, “the case for a different approach here is, to my mind, overwhelming”
In a new paper, Scotland's Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment, the Scottish Government mapped out three possible outcomes from the UK’s negotiations over Brexit