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Theresa May 'will refuse permission for second Indyref'

Nicola Sturgeon rules out holding referendum without UK Government agreement.

By STV News

Published 07 Mar 2019.

Theresa May would "of course" refuse the Scottish Government permission to hold another independence referendum, Jeremy Hunt has said.

The Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt used a visit to Glasgow to make clear the Prime Minister would rebuff any request from Nicola Sturgeon to hold a second legally binding ballot on the issue.

It came as the SNP's depute leader Keith Brown insisted such a move "should not prevent" a fresh vote on breaking up the UK from taking place - although the First Minister later appeared to rule this out as an option.

Hunt was asked during a visit to Glasgow University whether May's response should be "yes or no" if the First Minister does ask permission to hold another referendum.

The Foreign Secretary said: "The answer of course would be 'no' for the very simple reason that we think the Scottish Government should be focusing on the concerns of Scottish voters, which is not to have another very divisive independence referendum but to focus on an education system which used to be the envy of the world and standards are now falling, to focus on long waits in the NHS.

"That's what Scottish voters want the Scottish Government to focus on and I am sure that that is what Theresa May will tell Nicola Sturgeon if she makes that request."

Speaking at First Minister's Questions, Nicola Sturgeon said that the legal basis for any future referendum should be "the same" as for the 2014 - where the Edinburgh agreement struck between the Scottish and UK government set out the conditions for a legally binding ballot.

Asked by reporters if it was a possibility she could hold a referendum without the permission of Westminster, the First Minister said: "No, I am not open to that possibility."

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