UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in a BBC interview that Scotland should not have a second referendum vote on independence before Brexit negotiations are completed.
“My message is clear – now is not the time,” said May.
“I think we should be working to get the right deal for Scotland and the UK with our future partnership with the European Union.
“It would be unfair to the people of Scotland that they would be being asked to make a crucial decision without the information they need to make that decision.”
May said the UK should be “working together, not pulling apart.”
The UK prime minister did not elaborate on whether she was ruling out a referendum on Scottish independence at some point in the future.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for a referendum on independence to be held in late 2018 or early 2019.
Sturgeon responded to May’s interview in a series of tweets, saying the Scottish government was not proposing a referendum now “but when the terms of Brexit (were) clear and before it is too late to choose an alternative path.”
Sturgeon said “a section 30 order must be discussed and agreed now to enable that timescale” and “if the Tories refuse to do so, they would effectively be blocking Scotland’s right to choose when the Brexit terms clear.”
Sturgeon added “this would be undemocratic given @scotgov clear mandate and also proof positive that the Tories fear the verdict of the Scottish people.”
In one final tweet, Sturgeon said: “One last point – if PM thinks we won’t know terms of Brexit by autumn next year, she must think her own timetable will fail.”
Later, in a statement, Sturgeon said: “As I set out earlier this week, we are not proposing a referendum now – we are proposing to give the people of Scotland a choice once Brexit is clear but before it is too late.
“The PM does not appear to have listened to our proposal.
“We will put our proposition, based firmly on this government’s democratic mandate, to the Scottish Parliament next week, and then we will put our formal proposals to the UK Government.
“If the Prime Minister refuses to engage on the terms of a referendum before Brexit takes place then she is effectively trying to block the people of Scotland having a choice over their future.
“That would be a democratic outrage.
“It is for the Scottish Parliament – not Downing Street – to determine the timing of a referendum, and the decision of the Scottish Parliament must be respected.
“It would be outrageous for the Scottish Parliament to be frozen out of the process.
“The Scottish Government has a cast-iron democratic mandate to offer people a choice and that mandate must be fulfilled.
“Any bid by the UK Government to block the people of Scotland from making a choice will be untenable, undemocratic and totally unsustainable – and clearly shows that the UK Government recognises it is out of step with the Scottish people.”