In Brief

Is this the end for Nicola Sturgeon’s IndyRef2 dreams?

First minister furious as Boris Johnson formally rejects call for a second independence vote

The chances of a second referendum on Scottish independence have taken a major blow as the UK government formally rejected Nicola Sturgeon’s call for an “IndyRef2”.

Boris Johnson said yesterday that a referendum would “continue the political stagnation Scotland has seen for the past decade”.

In a letter to Sturgeon, he claimed that to “continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people” he could not “agree to a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums”.

In response, Sturgeon tweeted that the Conservatives were trying to “deny democracy”.

She wrote: “Tories are terrified of Scotland’s right to choose - because they know that when given the choice we’ll choose independence,” adding that Johnson’s announcement was “predictable but also unsustainable and self defeating”.

She insisted that “Scotland will have the right to choose. The Scottish Government will set out our response and next steps before the end of this month - when we will also again ask the Scottish Parliament to back Scotland’s right to choose our own future.”

One of those next steps could be legal action. Earlier this week, Ian Blackford, the Nationalist leader at Westminster, refused to rule out the SNP taking court action if Johnson turned down the Scottish Government’s request. He insisted the SNP would take things “step by step”.

However, Sturgeon has previously ruled out the possibility of holding an unofficial referendum similar to the one in Catalonia in 2017. Instead, many believe, she will target a major victory at the Scottish elections in 2021 and to claim a fresh mandate for Scottish independence to Westminster. The BBC says “Sturgeon clearly has one eye on that poll already”.

The government’s rejection “comes after weeks and months of Mr Johnson flatly refusing to grant a so-called Section 30 Order to enable Holyrood to hold another poll”, The Herald says.

However, at Holyrood, Adam Tomkins, the Scottish Conservative Shadow Constitution Secretary, insisted that Johnson’s letter should now “draw a line under the matter”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie told The Scotsman that support for independence is no higher than it was in 2014. He added: “The Scottish Liberal Democrats are on the side of the majority of people in Scotland do not want another independence referendum.”

Last month, Sturgeon published a 38-page document entitled Scotland’s Right to Choose, which argues that there has been a “material change of circumstance” since the independence referendum of 2014, based on “the prospect of Scotland leaving the EU against its will and what EU exit has revealed about Scotland’s position within the UK”.

Voters in Scotland backed remaining in the UK by 55% to 45% in the referendum in 2014.

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