LONDON (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Prime Minister Theresa May is set to unveil a "Plan for Britain" on Friday (March 17) as she prepares to trigger Brexit within days.
She will present her vision for the country's future outside the European Union and pledge to create a fairer society in a speech that she will deliver at the Conservative Party's spring conference in the Welsh capital Cardiff.
A day after rejecting Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon's call for a new independence referendum for Scotland, the premier will stress her commitment to the union between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
"Our plan for Britain will put strengthening and sustaining that union at its heart," May will say. "It means taking the big decisions when they're the right ones for Britain in the long-term. Putting the national interest above any other consideration."
May is trying to shake off the latest Scottish threat just days before she's expected to trigger two years of complex negotiations to extract Britain from the European Union. On Thursday, she said "now is not the time" for another plebiscite in Scotland.
The government wants to avoid having to spread its resources between defending the integrity of the three-centuries-old union and securing a Brexit deal that's as advantageous as possible to Britain.
"The coming negotiations with the EU will be vital for everyone in the United Kingdom: every person, every family, every business, every community the length and breadth of the United Kingdom - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland," May will say.
"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."
May will speak in Wales as the SNP's own conference kicks off in Aberdeen. The prime minister told ITV News on Thursday that Scots shouldn't have a vote on independence until they know the results of the Brexit negotiations.
Sturgeon, who leads the semi-autonomous administration in Scotland, said on Monday she wants a vote by the spring of 2019.
If May begins formal divorce proceedings by the end of the month, as promised, Britain would leave the bloc by the end of March 2019 under the timeline laid out in the EU's Lisbon Treaty.
Sturgeon accuses May of failing to consider Scotland's interests in preparing her Brexit strategy. The prime minister has vowed to take Britain out of the EU's single market, while Sturgeon would like Scotland to remain inside.
Meanwhile, a website outlining May's "Plan for Britain" was launched on Thursday. But it stopped working shortly after the launch, and the issue became one of the most talked about topics among British users of Twitter. Many of them joked that the breakdown was emblematic of the government's Brexit plans.
A government spokeswoman said problems in hosting the site were quickly resolved.