Nicola Sturgeon speaking at the SNP conference [Image: The Guardian].

Nicola Sturgeon speaking at the SNP conference [Image: The Guardian].

This could be interesting.

The SNP-run government in Holyrood has made it clear since the EU referendum result in June that Brexit creates a change in UK politics sufficient to justify another referendum on whether Scotland remains part of the nation.

But the noises from Number 10 suggest Nicola Sturgeon will not be offered the opportunity.

Theresa May, it seems, will not allow another independence referendum; as far as she is concerned, the matter has been settled.

For once, it seems unlikely she’ll change her mind; the Scottish government is unlikely to be able to offer a financial threat to Mrs May or her fellow Tories.

Nicola Sturgeon warned that she was prepared to stage a second Scottish independence referendum before the UK quits the European Union as she attacked the Tories for their “xenophobic” rhetoric on the EU.

In a clear challenge to Theresa May’s government in London, the first minister told the Scottish National party conference in Glasgow she would unveil draft legislation next week to prepare for a rerun of the 2014 referendum within the next two years.

Sturgeon said the UK government’s recent rhetoric on capping immigration and on quitting the EU single market made it clear that the Tory party had been taken over by its “rampant and xenophobic” right wing. To applause from delegates, Sturgeon singled out the prime minister and declared: “Hear this: if you think for one single second that I’m not serious about doing what it takes to protect Scotland’s interests, then think again.”

Her official spokesman cautioned that this was designed to give the Scottish government the full range of options. Sturgeon had a dual-track strategy and her immediate goal was to get the strongest powers possible for Holyrood in the Brexit deal.

A UK government source said that strategy was “bizarre” because the Brexit bill was designed to protect Holyrood’s existing powers by embedding all existing EU legislation into UK law. It may also weaken Sturgeon’s hand in future Brexit talks: negotiations are due to start in late October, when the prime minister meets Sturgeon and the leaders of the Welsh and Northern Irish governments to agree on joint plans to prepare for Brexit.

Responding to Sturgeon’s speech, Downing Street said the government would continue to engage with Sturgeon and the people of Scotland but would not support another referendum. “We believe this issue was addressed in 2014. We want to engage different stakeholders around the UK, but we will be delivering on the will of the British people, and that is to leave the EU,” a spokesperson for Theresa May said.

Source: Nicola Sturgeon challenges May with second referendum bill | Politics | The Guardian

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