Rishi Sunak rejects Nicola Sturgeon requests for Indyref2

Rishi Sunak - JESSICA TAYLOR/AFP/Getty Images

Rishi Sunak – JESSICA TAYLOR/AFP/Getty Images

Rishi Sunak rejected Nicola Sturgeon’s demands for a second independence referendum telling the SNP to ‘respect’ the clear ‘no’ in 2014.

The new Prime Minister told MPs he was ‘delighted’ to speak with Ms Sturgeon on her first day in office and said he had offered to ‘work constructively’ with her administration in Edinburgh.

Her reading of their conversation on Tuesday night indicated she had raised his demand for another independence referendum, but Mr Sunak said he was ready to ‘disagree’ on the issue.

Urging Ms Sturgeon’s government to instead focus on its national responsibilities, he said he hoped to ‘work together’ with the SNP to reduce violent crime in Scotland, which rose another 9% last year.

In a direct attack on his record in office, Mr Sunak pointed to official figures showing police numbers in Scotland have fallen to their lowest level in 14 years, while officer ranks in England are rising.

Liz Truss had come under fire for not speaking to the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales in an official capacity during her chaotic premiership.

In her successful leadership race against Mr Sunak this summer, she had pledged to ignore Ms Sturgeon, whom she called an ‘attention seeker’. However, Mr Rishi warned that this approach was “dangerously complacent”.

The Prime Minister has said she will hold an independence referendum on October 19 next year if the Supreme Court decides it is within its powers, following a hearing earlier this month.

If the court decides it would be illegal because the constitution is reserved for Westminster, it intends to use the next general election as a ‘de facto’ referendum and open divorce talks if the separatist parties win more half of the popular vote.

Alyn Smith, the SNP MP for Stirling, challenged Mr Sunak during questions from his first Prime Minister over his refusal to allow another independence referendum, asking: ‘How long does he think he will can deny Scottish democracy?”

Mr Sunak replied: ‘He spoke of respect, I would generally urge him to respect the result of the (independence) referendum.’

Sturgeon - Andrew Milligan/Getty Images

Sturgeon – Andrew Milligan/Getty Images

Responding to Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, he said it was “important” for him to speak to Ms Sturgeon on his first day in office.

“I wanted to express my desire to work constructively with the Scottish Government so that we can work together to serve the people of Scotland and that is what I plan to do,” he said.

“And indeed I hope crime is one of the things we can work together on because he will know that violent crime is going up in Scotland and the police are going down, whereas here we are going up the police force.”

Mr Sunak said he looked forward to working with Ms Sturgeon’s government ‘on our common challenges’ as he believed in a ‘strong UK’.

Ms Sturgeon said their appeal had been ‘constructive’, tweeting: ‘I expressed the hope that we would build a relationship between the UK and Scottish Government based on mutual respect – including for mandates – and my fear that ‘new austerity does real harm to people and the public I look forward to a new commitment soon.’

Referring to another separation vote, the Scottish Government said the Prime Minister “has made it clear that he intends to honor the mandate that the Scottish Government received from the people of Scotland in the last election”.

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