Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson has accused the UK Government of being scared of a second Scottish independence referendum.

The party's leader at Westminster also claimed the Conservatives had a "desperate desire" to prevent anyone rejecting a "hard Brexit".

It comes after the Theresa May rejected nationalist calls for a second vote until a Brexit deal had been reached.

She used a speech to Tory activists to reach out to Scots by talking of "one United Kingdom, all pulling together to get the best outcome".

But Mr Robertson told the SNP spring conference in Aberdeen that it is for the people of Scotland to decide the country's future.

He said: "It is clear from the PM's panicked response to the Scottish Government's decision to, rightly, give people in Scotland a choice over Scotland's future, that the Tories are simply scared of the people's choice.

"The Tories' argument is not about process, it is about their desperate desire to prevent anyone having the chance to reject the hard right Brexit that they are so wedded to.

"The truth is it should not be for either Theresa May or the Scottish Government to decide Scotland's future - that choice belongs to the parliament and the people of Scotland, and it is one this party will never shy away from."

Responding to the announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that she planned to stage a fresh vote on independence between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, Mrs May argued "now is not the time".

In her spring conference speech in Cardiff, Mrs May stressed the need for unity as Britain heads for the EU exit door.

Nicola Sturgeon seeks a mandate for a second independence referendum

She said: "The coming negotiations with the EU will be vital for everyone in the United Kingdom.

"Every person, every family, every business, every community the length and breadth of the United Kingdom - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."

It was "essential that we get the right deal" and that required working together, she insisted, adding: "That is what we have always done when faced with challenges.

"We have pulled together as one and succeeded together.

"We are four nations, but at heart we are one people.

"And I will always ensure the voices and interests of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are represented as we negotiate to leave the EU.

"And I will always fight to strengthen and sustain this precious, precious union.




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