In Brief

Scottish independence: Is IndyRef2 'dead' after election losses?

SNP plans for second referendum 'in jeopardy' after party loses 20 seats, with Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson out

 

Scottish hopes for independence appeared to suffer a major blow in yesterday's election after the SNP lost 20 seats.

Former party leader Alex Salmond and current deputy leader Angus Robertson were "dramatically ousted" from their seats in Westminster as the nationalists suffered huge losses across Scotland "putting plans for a second vote on independence in jeopardy", Independent.ie says.

Prior to the vote, the Scottish parliament had backed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second independence referendum, voting 69 to 59 in favour of seeking the UK government's permission to hold one before the country leaves the EU.

Now the very notion has been thrown into doubt.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said yesterday's result meant the SNP's plans were "dead".

"There was one big issue in this campaign and that was Nicola Sturgeon trying to ram through a second independence referendum in March and the country's reaction to that," she told the BBC.

"And I think we've seen the country's reaction in the number of SNP seats that have fallen.

"IndyRef2 is dead. That's what's happened tonight."

Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who kept his seat, said he hoped Sturgeon "will take her plan for a divisive second independence referendum off the table and we'll see the SNP actually coming forward in a constructive way".

However, Sturgeon said she would "reflect" on her party's losses, but would not make any "rash decisions" pledging to "properly think about" whether to push ahead with the separation vote

 

Scottish parliament approves second independence referendum

29 March

The Scottish parliament has backed Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second independence referendum, voting 69 to 59 in favour of seeking the UK government's permission to hold one before the country leaves the EU.

The vote went ahead despite talks on Monday between the First Minister and Prime Minister Theresa May, who has repeatedly said "now is not the time".

Sturgeon warned that any attempt by the UK government to block or delay a referendum would be "democratically indefensible and utterly unsustainable".

But Scottish Secretary David Mundell told the BBC: "We won't be entering into any negotiations at all until the Brexit process is complete."

The timescale Westminster deems fit for a new referendum could include "the Brexit process, the journey of leaving and people being able to understand what the UK's new relationship with the EU is, so they can make an informed choice if there was ever to be another referendum", he added.

Mundell's comments raise the possibility of a new referendum being delayed until after the 2021 Scottish elections, The Scotsman says.

Such a delay would push Sturgeon's preferred timetable for holding the vote back by at least two years, well beyond the her desired window of autumn of 2018 and spring 2019.

May tells Sturgeon a united Britain is an  'unstoppable force'

27 March

Theresa May will today tell Nicola Sturgeon that the combined nations of the United Kingdom are an "unstoppable force". The meeting will take place just two days before the Prime Minister invokes Article 50 and begins withdrawal from the European Union.

This will be the first meeting between the UK Prime Minister and Scotland's First Minister since Sturgeon revealed her plans for a second Scottish independence referendum.

Earlier this month May said she would refuse to give permission for a second Scottish independence referendum before Brexit had taken place, saying "now is not the time".

Before meeting Sturgeon, May will address staff at the Department for International Development (DfID) in East Kilbride, telling them that their work shows Britain is a "kind and generous country" and that there is "no limit" to what the UK nations can achieve together.

Analysts see this as May attempting to do just what the then-PM David Cameron and other major party leaders were criticised for failing to do in the run-up to the first independence referendum: provide a positive message of unity.

May will tell DfID staff: "UK Aid is a badge of hope for so many around the world… And it says this, that when this great union of nations – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – sets its mind on something and works together with determination, we are an unstoppable force."

When the two women meet today, says the Daily Telegraph, May will tell Sturgeon "face to face that there will be no new Scottish independence referendum before Brexit". The meeting is likely to be "tense", says the paper.

According to The Scotsman, sources say May will not discuss when a referendum might be permitted. Talks will instead focus on the Brexit timetable.

On Tuesday, the Scottish Parliament will vote on whether to call for a referendum under Sturgeon's timetable – and, with the Greens backing the Scottish National Party, the vote is expected to go Sturgeon's way.

The meeting is the beginning of a whistle-stop tour of all four UK nations by Theresa May before she triggers Article 50 on Wednesday.

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