Published: Sat, March 04, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

May's handling of Brexit riles Scottish nationalists

May's handling of Brexit riles Scottish nationalists

Theresa May today warned she is ready for a showdown with the SNP over the return of post-Brexit powers from Brussels to protect the "coherence and integrity" of the UK.

She asked why Tory politicians including herself, Theresa May and Scottish Secretary David Mundell should "say what our response would be to a hypothetical move the SNP hasn't made yet". "To me politics isn't a game".

Mrs May added: "Unlike any of the individual devolved administrations, the United Kingdom Parliament is elected by the whole UK, and the UK Government serves the whole UK".

She said the SNP was "a party resolutely focused on just one thing: independence".

"They only seem to be looking at independence, whereas I think people in Scotland don't want a second referendum".

Mrs May will say that she is focused on "strengthening and sustaining the bonds that unite us" and that keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom is a "personal priority".

The latest clash between Mrs May and Ms Sturgeon comes as the First Minister is expected to announce plans for a second independence referendum when the Prime Minister triggers Article 50 for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union later this month.

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In a speech to party activists in Glasgow, the Conservative Party leader said that keeping England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland together was her "personal priority" and there was "no economic case" for breaking up the UK.

The Scottish government is increasingly convinced it can win a new independence referendum and is thinking seriously about calling one next year as Britain exits the European Union, sources close to the Scottish government said on Thursday (23 February).

While few would doubt her commitment to the Union, her decision to raise the prospect of Scotland not being handed powers now on their way from Brussels was a peculiar one. She said there was mounting anxiety that Andrea Leadsom, the environment and agriculture secretary, wanted to impose a UK-wide agriculture policy and seize control over about £500m in Scottish farm subsidies.

Sturgeon has insisted that a second referendum was an option in the light of the change of circumstances.

The Conservative leader will address the party's Scottish conference in Glasgow on Friday. "They don't want a referendum, they want the SNP government to get on with the day job". However, what May's speech gives us a glimpse of the approach her government will take should a second vote occur.

Theresa May tells Sturgeon to end obsession with independence.

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