Scotland's leader won't call unilateral independence vote

Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected Sturgeon’s request for a legally binding vote on independence within two years.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says Britain's prime minister is doing nothing to break an impasse over Scotland's future after Brexit, but she ruled out holding a referendum on independence without the British government's support.

Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected Sturgeon's request for a legally binding vote on independence within two years.

Sturgeon could ignore her and call a consultative vote, but she told The Associated Press in an interview that a new referendum "should be on the same basis as the last referendum in Scotland, which was by agreement and consensus."

Britain as a whole voted in June to leave the European Union, but in Scotland, the vote was 62-38 percent to remain.

That has reignited the issue of independence, which had seemed to be settled after Scots rejected a break with the United Kingdom in a 2014 referendum.

Sturgeon says the decision to leave the EU has changed things fundamentally, and Scottish voters must not be forced out of the bloc against their will.

She wants a referendum to be held between the fall of 2018 and spring of 2019, before Britain leaves the European Union but when details of the divorce are clear.

Scotland's Edinburgh-based parliament has backed that call, but May says now is not the time for another vote.

Speaking on Wednesday during a trip to the United States to drum up support for Scottish businesses, Sturgeon said May's position is "not a sustainable one."

"Simply saying, 'Now is not the time' only takes you so far before you have to answer the question, well when is the time?" she said.

"I might put forward the timescale I think makes sense, and if she doesn't agree with that then we should discuss what the alternative might be.

I'll set out in due course the steps I intend to take next."

Sturgeon said she put forward compromises "but we haven't had any sign from the UK government that they want to meet us halfway."

Independence is a long-cherished goal of Sturgeon's Scottish National Party, but pushing for a new referendum is a major political gamble for the 46-year-old leader.

Sturgeon said an independent Scotland should be a member of the EU, but there is uncertainty about how quickly it could reapply and regain membership.

If Scotland is inside the bloc and the rest of the UK out, that could threaten the currently frictionless border between England and Scotland.

"Scotland and England should always trade freely with each other," Sturgeon said. "It's in our mutual benefit. But I want that as well as trade within the (EU) single market because that is so important to Scotland's interests."
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