IndyRef2 Needs Public Consent, Theresa May Says

18 May 2017, 17:12 | Updated: 18 May 2017, 17:35

Theresa May Election announcement

Theresa May has insisted a second Scottish independence referendum cannot take place until there is "public consent'' for such a vote to be held.

The Prime Minister used the launch of the Conservative Party manifesto to make clear her opposition to another vote on the future of the UK.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants a fresh ballot on independence to take place some time between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, insisting it is necessary to give Scots an alternative to Brexit.

Mrs May said any second referendum "cannot take place until the Brexit process has played out and it should not take place unless there is public consent for it to happen''.

The manifesto, which the PM said would address the ''five great challenges'' Britain faces over the coming years, includes a pledge to deliver a "strong and stable Union, with no divisive Scottish referendum at this time''.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the "key commitment'' in the document was the Tories' opposition to a "reckless'' second independence referendum.

Mr Mundell, who was the only Tory MP elected in Scotland in the last general election, travelled to Halifax to take part in the launch event.

Afterwards, he said: "From the Borders to the North Sea, this manifesto delivers for Scotland.

"It shows that a re-elected Conservative government will continue to ensure that Scotland benefits from its membership of the United Kingdom.

"All this is underpinned by the key commitment in today's manifesto - and that is to say no to the SNP's reckless plan for a second referendum so Scotland can move on, together.''

At the launch, Mrs May restated her determination to get a good Brexit deal for Britain but said her manifesto also addressed the challenges of building a strong economy, tackling social division and meeting the pressures of an ageing society and fast-changing technology.

She promised to govern for ''mainstream Britain'' and urged supporters of all parties to rally behind her drive to get the best possible deal from Brussels.

In contrast with the 2015 manifesto, which pledged to ''work to eliminate'' child poverty, Mrs May's agenda promised only to ''reduce levels of child poverty''.

SNP depute leader Angus Robertson said: "The Tory manifesto is a cruel and callous attack on families - with deep austerity cuts that will hit pensioners, families and our public services.

"Theresa May talked about 'hard choices' - and these will affect pensioners, disabled people, the vulnerable and those on middle and low incomes.

"We know the devastating reality of seven years of Tory government - working families hammered by cuts to tax credits, low-income families forced to rely on food banks and disgraceful Tory policies like the bedroom tax, the rape clause and the cuts to disabled mobility support.''

He also insisted that if the Tories "fail to win the election in Scotland they have no basis whatsoever on which to continue to thwart the will of the Scottish Parliament'' with regard to a referendum.

James Kelly, Scottish Labour's election campaign manager, said the Tory manifesto "means every Conservative candidate in Scotland is standing on a platform endorsing the abhorrent rape clause, the bedroom tax and swingeing cuts to social security payments''.

He stated: "There is now a clear choice between a radical vision of a fairer UK with a Labour government, or Theresa May's Little Britain, closed off from the world and building borders as nationalist governments always do.

"A vote for Labour on June 8 is a vote to end Tory austerity and tell Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland doesn't want a divisive second independence referendum.''