EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Britain’s Conservative party will commit in its next manifesto to blocking another referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said.
The comment has raised hackles amongst nationalists north of the English border, where they have a majority in the devolved parliament and are increasingly discontented over Brexit. Historically, such gestures have been perceived as distant London telling Scotland what to do.
Davidson said she would go into Britain’s next national election with a manifesto commitment to block a Scottish independence referendum. She argued that in a 2014 independence vote “the people of Scotland were promised this would be a once in a generation event,” she told the BBC.
“Nobody would expect anything different from the Scottish Conservative Party than to say we won’t have one.”
In 2014, Scots rejected independence 55 to 45 percent.
Davidson’s opponents say, however, that since that time circumstances have changed significantly; Britain overall has voted to leave the EU but one of its nations, Scotland, opted by a large majority to stay in.
Nevertheless Scotland will leave with the rest of the United Kingdom. Talks between London and Edinburgh over the implications of leaving the EU have been increasingly fraught.
Davidson, who has revived Conservative fortunes in Scotland after decades in the doldrums, equated holding a second independence vote with holding another Brexit vote, an alternative with growing public support but still rejected by May’s party.
Davidson told her party conference in Birmingham on Monday that she had voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 Brexit vote but would not “demand a re-run just because I wasn’t on the winning side”.
She warned her party, led by Prime Minister Theresa May who is struggling to deliver Brexit, that there are “those who are working day by day to break up (the United Kingdom) – and who believe that a chaotic Brexit will help”.
In a statement, the Scottish National Party (SNP), which runs the devolved Scottish government, accused Davidson of “unbelievable arrogance”.
“The SNP believes that it should be up to the people of Scotland – not Ruth Davidson or Theresa May – to determine their own future,” said SNP deputy leader Keith Brown.
Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary