British PM Theresa May reiterates opposition to new Scotland independence referendum

Pro-Scottish Independence supporters with Scottish Saltire flags and EU flags among others rally in George Square in Glasgow, Scotland on July 30, 2016 to call for Scottish independence from the UK.
Pro-Scottish Independence supporters with Scottish Saltire flags and EU flags among others rally in George Square in Glasgow, Scotland on July 30, 2016 to call for Scottish independence from the UK. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - British Prime Minister Theresa May remains opposed to a second referendum on Scottish independence, her spokesman said, after a report that Scotland's government is preparing to call another vote pushed the pound lower.

"Should there be a second referendum? Our clear answer to that is 'no,"' the spokesman, Greg Swift, told reporters in London on Monday (Feb 27).

"In 2014, the people of Scotland made a clear decision to stay in the UK. It was a fair, legal and decisive result."

The pound fell against all its major peers after the London-based Times newspaper reported that May's team is preparing for Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to use the Brexit process to call a new vote.

Sterling dropped as much as 0.6 per cent against the dollar and was down 0.4 per cent at US$1.2413 at 12.21pm in London.

Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, has repeatedly said since the day after the June 23 Brexit vote that another independence referendum was "highly likely" after Scots chose to remain in the European Union.

She said at the end of last month that "time is now running out" for the UK government to make progress toward a compromise that would keep Scotland as part of the EU's single market, a demand she made to avoid another vote on leaving the UK.

May's ministers have now made it clear they don't intend to seek continued single-market membership in their talks on a post-Brexit deal with the EU.

The prime minister intends to trigger Britain's withdrawal as close as possible to the summit of the bloc taking place in Brussels on March 9-10, according to two government officials involved in Brexit planning. The SNP holds its spring conference in Aberdeen a week later.

Scotland voted by 55 per cent to 45 per cent to stay in the UK in September 2014, but a BMG poll for the Glasgow-based Herald newspaper carried out late last month found the gap in favour of remaining within the union had narrowed to two percentage points.

The Scottish government in Edinburgh did not comment on the Times report.