LONDON: Britain’s government on Tuesday officially refused the local Scottish government’s request for a power transfer to hold a second independence referendum.
Publishing a letter he penned in response to the request from Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he could not agree to such a transfer of power, arguing that it would not be right to essentially repeat the 2014 referendum just six years later.
“You and your predecessor made a personal promise that the 2014 Referendum was a ‘once in a generation’ vote,” he wrote to Sturgeon.
“The people of Scotland voted decisively on that promise to keep our United Kingdom together, a result which both the Scottish and UK governments committed to respect in the Edinburgh Agreement,” the 2012 pact on the referendum two years later, he wrote.
Johnson said the UK government will “uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the promise you made to them.”
“For that reason, I cannot agree to any request for a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums.”
Another referendum would continue the “political stagnation” in Scotland, Johnson also said.
Sturgeon had written to Johnson to request the transfer of power to the devolved government in order to hold a second referendum, arguing that the circumstances have changed since the first referendum due to the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Sturgeon and her Scottish National Party (SNP) has repeatedly claimed that “Scotland would not be dragged out of the EU” against their will and said a second referendum will be held in 2020. The first referendum that asked Scottish voters whether they would want to break free from the U.K. was held in 2014, a mere two years before the historic EU referendum. The government under then-Prime Minister Cameron pledged better understanding for Scots from Westminster and “extensive new powers” for the Scottish Parliament. The SNP, the party leading the independence campaign, had full confidence that the country would survive and even be better off outside the U.K., strengthened by the nation’s oil fields in the North Sea, world-famous malt whiskey, textile, jet engines, and various banking and financial services.
But Scots rejected separation from the rest of the U.K., as over 2 million votes (55.3%) were cast to remain part of the kingdom, while a mere 1.62 million (44.7%) voted for independence.
Johnson and the Scottish Tories have repeatedly rejected the idea of indyref2 — as the possible vote has become known — calling the 2014 referendum a “once in a lifetime” event that proved Scots prefer the union. (AA)