Britain | Sturgeon says 2021 Scots independence vote is unacceptable

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP)

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon accused U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May of being intransigent on the timing of a referendum on Scottish independence, and said it would “not be reasonable” to make Scots wait more than three years from now for a potential vote.

“By that point Scotland will have been taken out” of the European Union, Scottish National Party leader Sturgeon said on ITV’s “Peston on Sunday” television show.

For her, a fair compromise would be to set a vote “a bit after” after her own deadline of early 2019, when the U.K. could leave the bloc. She was asked by interviewer Robert Peston if a 2021 referendum was reasonable. Sturgeon’s team want to press on with the legal process after she called for a vote as early as the fall of 2018.

If May is “talking, you know, in the spring of 2019, a bit later perhaps than I was suggesting then there may be some room for discussion around that,” Sturgeon said.

May has pledged to fire the starting gun on two years of Brexit talks with the EU by the end of March. Sturgeon argues that Scots should have a say before those negotiations end, and Scotland is left out in the cold.

She said last week that Britain needs to unite to make a success of its divorce from the EU, and “now is not the time” for a Scottish breakaway campaign. Sturgeon will introduce a motion into the Scottish Parliament this week to apply to the legislature in London for a referendum on independence.

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish branch of May’s Conservative Party, accused of Sturgeon of being “hellbent on the separation of this country” during an interview on BBC Television’s “Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday.

Support for independence is at 44 percent among Scottish voters, one percentage point less than the result for leaving the U.K. in a 2014 referendum, the Sunday Times reported, citing a poll by Panelbase. The survey showed 51 percent of Scots didn’t want another vote in the next few years while 32 percent back a referendum in the next year or two.

There has been a hardening of position from May. She repeated her opposition to a vote in a speech to her Conservative Party’s spring forum in Cardiff on Friday, accusing the SNP of having “tunnel vision” and of using concerns over Brexit as a pretext for pushing for a vote.

“It would be bad for Scotland, bad for the United Kingdom, and bad for us all,” May told Tory delegates. “It is essential that we get the right deal, and that all of our efforts and energies as a country are focused on that outcome.”

The SNP is expected to win the vote in the Scottish Parliament with support from the Greens. May will then risk the credibility of the union if she refuses a referendum, Sturgeon said at her own party’s conference in Aberdeen on Saturday, a day after May addressed Tories. MDT/Bloomberg

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