Nicola Sturgeon has maintained there is no “rational” argument against holding an independence referendum within two years and claimed Theresa May agrees with her likely Brexit timetable.
The first minister wants another vote on the constitution to take place between the autumn of 2018 and spring 2019, but the prime minister yesterday confirmed once again that she would reject any ballot on that timescale.
Following a meeting in Glasgow, SNP leader Ms Sturgeon insisted the prime minister had been clear the terms of the UK’s divorce from the EU and the details of a new free trade deal would be known within two years.
She said: “I think it makes it very difficult for the prime minister to maintain a rational opposition to a referendum in the timescale I have set out.
“I think she has got a perfectly rational opposition to a referendum now, which is why I am not proposing it.
“But I think, based on the discussion today, I would struggle to see what her rational opposition to it would be in the timescale we have been talking about.”
Ms Sturgeon described the talks as “cordial” and “business-like”, although she said Mrs May had made no offer on powers to be devolved to Scotland as part of the Brexit process.
Asked about what would happen if her call for another referendum was formally rejected, Ms Sturgeon responded: “I will set that out in due course. I actually have views in my mind around that.
“If their position remains as it is right now, I will set out to parliament what I think the next steps should be.”
Earlier in the day, Mrs May, who refused to allow print media into any of her events, taking only limited questions from broadcasters, said her position on Ms Sturgeon’s call for a second independence referendum by spring 2019 would not change.
The prime minister would not be drawn on whether a vote could take place further into the future, restating her view that “now is not the time” for another ballot.
The UK Conservative leader insisted a vote within Ms Sturgeon’s time frame would be “unfair” to the Scottish people.
She said: “Now is the point when we are triggering Article 50, we’re starting negotiations for leaving the European Union. Now is the time when we should be pulling together, not hanging apart.
“Pulling together to make sure we get the best possible deal for the whole of the UK.
“Also, I think it would be unfair on the people of Scotland to ask them to make a significant decision until all the facts were known, at a point where nobody knows what the situation is going to be.
“My position isn’t going to change, which is that now is not the time to be talking about a second independence referendum.”
Mrs May also vowed to build a “more united nation” as Britain prepares to leave the EU.