British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday refused an appeal from Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon to stage a second referendum on declaring independence from Britain.
In a letter explaining the decision, Johnson stressed the importance of unity among British nations.
“The Scottish people voted decisively to keep our United Kingdom together, a result which both the Scottish and U.K. governments committed to respect,” he wrote. “Let’s make 2020 a year of growth and opportunity for the whole of U.K.”
Sturgeon said in October she would call for a second vote, after the first in 2014 failed — with more than half of voters opposing a split.
Sturgeon said it’s “unsustainable” to go without another vote on the matter. She wrote Johnson last month to request authority for another referendum under section 30 of the 1998 Scotland Act. She also asked that Scottish lawmakers receive permanent authority to hold future referendums on independence.
“You and your predecessor made a personal promise that the 2014 Independence Referendum was a ‘once in a generation’ vote,” Johnson added in his rejection letter. “The people of Scotland voted decisively on that promise to keep our United Kingdom together, a result which both the Scottish and U.K. Governments committed to respect in the Edinburgh Agreement.”
“The U.K. government will continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the 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.”
Johnson said Scotland’s ideas of independence are at least partly responsible for “political stagnation” in Britain over the last decade — especially schools, hospitals and jobs.
“While today’s response is not surprising … it will not stand,” Sturgeon answered Tuesday. “It is not politically sustainable for any Westminster government to stand in the way of of the right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future and to seek to block the clear democratic mandate for an independence referendum.”
Calls for a new independence referendum have grown since Britain’s surprise vote in 2016 to leave the European Union, a proposal most in Scotland opposed. Also, the Scottish National Party won 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats in the last general election, which the party says indicates a desire for a new vote.