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UK’s Johnson rejects Scotland’s independence referendum request

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outside Bute House in Edinburgh, on July 29, 2019 (file photo)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to grant the Scottish government the authority to hold a second independence referendum, saying he “cannot agree that now is the time to return” to the independence question.

In a letter to First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday, Johnson reiterated his government’s stance that the question had been settled in 2014 when Scots voted 55 percent to 45 percent to stay in the 315-year union with England.

“As our country faces unprecedented challenges at home and aboard I cannot agree that now is the time to return to a question which was clearly answered by the people of Scotland in 2014,” Johnson wrote in his letter.

The prime minister argued that the 2014 vote had been supposed to be a once-in-a-generation event, and another referendum was not a priority for Scottish voters concerned with the cost of living crisis, education and health standards, and lately the war in Ukraine.

“Our shared priorities must be to respond effectively to the global cost of living challenge, to support our NHS and public services as they recover from the huge disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to play our leading part in the international response to Russian aggression in Ukraine,” Johnson said.

“On all fronts, we stand to achieve so much more for the people we serve by continuing to work together as partners and that is what we are doing,” he added.

Johnson thanked Scotland’s support for the UK’s policy on the Ukraine-Russia conflict, saying, “The Scottish Government’s contribution of €65 million to our further military support for Ukraine will help our gallant allies continue their fight.”

His letter to Sturgeon came on the day dozens of his own ministers and aides called for him to quit after the so-called partygate.

Sturgeon tweeted her response, questioning whether it would be “one of his last acts as PM,” adding “to be clear, Scotland will have the opportunity to choose independence - I hope in a referendum on 19 October 2023 but, if not, through a general election. Scottish democracy will not be a prisoner of this or any PM.

Just received this from Johnson (one of his last acts as PM?). To be clear, Scotland will have the opportunity to choose independence - I hope in a referendum on 19 October 2023 but, if not, through a general election. Scottish democracy will not be a prisoner of this or any PM. pic.twitter.com/EAgIVvEuoc

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 6, 2022

Last week Sturgeon wrote a letter to Johnson in an attempt to negotiate the terms of a section 30 order with him, which would give Scotland the power to hold a referendum without the approval of the UK government in 2023.

She has argued that her Scottish National Party’s victory in the May 2021 elections to the Scottish parliament meant there was an “indisputable” mandate for a second referendum.

The FM has asked Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain to refer the bill to lawmakers in London to ensure the vote is wholly legal without the agreement of the UK government. In a ruling published on Tuesday, Bain said the Scottish government might not have the necessary powers to legislate on the vote under the terms of the Scotland Act 1998.


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