Boris Johnson has once again batted away suggestions of a second referendum on Scottish independence in a letter to Nicola Sturgeon.
But Mr Johnson’s response makes his disagreement clear.
Today I have written to Nicola Sturgeon. The Scottish people voted decisively to keep our United Kingdom together, a result which both the Scottish and UK Governments committed to respect.
Let’s make 2020 a year of growth and opportunity for the whole of the UK 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/JjQp3X2J2n
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 14, 2020
He wrote: “You and your predecessor made a personal promise that the 2014 Independence Referendum was a ‘once in a generation’ vote. 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 UK government will continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people and promise that 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 independence referendum would continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade, with Scottish schools, hospitals and jobs again left behind because of a campaign to separate the UK.”
Scots voted by 55% to 45% to stay in the United Kingdom in a referendum in 2014.
But calls for a new poll have grown since the Brexit referendum, where Scotland voted in favour of staying in the EU.
The SNP also says that its success at the last general election, where it won 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats in Westminster, suggests there is a desire for a new vote.
A march for Scottish independence in Glasgow on Saturday reportedly attracted tens of thousands of people.
Ms Sturgeon called Mr Johnson’s response “predictable – but also unsustainable and self-defeating. Scotland will have the right to choose”.
She said: “Tories are terrified of Scotland’s right to choose – because they know that when given the choice we’ll choose independence. Tories have no positive case for the union – so all they can do is attempt to deny democracy. It will not stand.”
She also said the SNP would ask the Scottish Parliament to “back Scotland’s right to choose our own future”. Her government will put its next steps together before the end of the month, she said.
The letter from the prime minister came shortly after Jess Phillips, one of the Labour leadership candidates, announced she would be “100% committed to the union”.
She said: “The idea that the answer to the UK leaving a union with our most important trading partner is for Scotland to leave a union with her most important trading partner only makes sense if you’re a nationalist.
“Nicola Sturgeon wants to talk to me about threats to Scotland – the SNP’s abject failings on education and health show that it is her administration that remains a threat to opportunity and equality for working people in Scotland.”
But Ms Sturgeon responded on Twitter by saying the Labour backbencher was “singing from exactly the same hymn sheet as Boris Johnson”.
She added: “The sound in the background is Scottish Labour’s few remaining voters running for the hills.”