Boris Johnson rejects Nicola Sturgeon’s call for Scotland to hold second independence referendum
‘Another independence referendum would continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade,’ PM says
Revealing a letter to Nicola Sturgeon, the prime minister said he had “carefully considered” the case she had made for powers to be transferred to Holyrood that would allow it to hold a vote on Scotland’s future.
But he said both the SNP leader and her predecessor, Alex Salmond, had made a “personal promise” that the referendum in 2014 was a “once in generation” event.
He said: “The UK government will continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the promise that you made to them. For that reason I cannot agree to any request for a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums.”
He continued: “Another independence referendum would continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade, with Scottish schools, hospitals and jobs again left behind because of a campaign to separate the UK.
“It is time that we all worked to bring the whole of the United Kingdom together and unleash the potential of this great country.”
Responding, Ms Sturgeon, whose party won 48 of the 59 Scottish seats at the general election, said the Conservatives were “terrified” of offering the people of Scotland “the right to choose our future”.
“They know that given the choice the overwhelming likelihood is that people will choose the positive option of independence,” she claimed.
The first minister continued: “While today’s response is not surprising – indeed we anticipated it – it will not stand. It is not politically sustainable for any Westminster government to stand in the way of the right of the people of Scotland to decide there own future and to seek to block the clear democratic mandate for an independence referendum.”
She also claimed Mr Johnson’s decision would mean the “road back to political oblivion” for the Conservatives in Scotland, who lost seven seats at the December general election while the SNP gained 13.
Ms Sturgeon said that the Scottish government would set out its full response later in January when Holyrood will be asked once more to endorse requesting formal powers from the UK government.
Ahead of publishing his letter to Ms Sturgeon, Mr Johnson was given the full support of the cabinet, his spokesperson said, adding that the prime minister told a meeting at 10 Downing Street the government had an “optimistic vision” for Scotland and the whole UK in 2020, including investing and “levelling up” in every part of the country.
“We don’t want the 2020s in Scotland to repeat the previous SNP’s lost decade when Scottish schools, hospitals and jobs were left behind because of their campaign to separate the United Kingdom,” Mr Johnson told ministers.