The UK government has formally rejected a call from the Prime Minister of Scotland for a second independence referendum.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a referendum “will continue the political stalemate that Scotland has seen in the last decade.”
And he said Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon had previously promised that the 2014 referendum would be a “once in a generation” vote.
Sturgeon tweeted that conservatives were trying to “deny democracy.”
She said Johnson’s formal rejection of his request for a referendum to be held this year was “predictable but also unsustainable and counterproductive,” and insisted that “Scotland will have the right to choose.”
The prime minister also said that the Scottish government will set out its response and the “next steps” before the end of the month, and that the delegated Scottish Parliament will be asked again to “support Scotland’s right to choose our own future.”
Scottish voters backed to remain in the UK at 55% to 45% in the referendum in 2014.
Sturgeon says sje wants to hold another vote on independence, and made a formal request last month for the UK government to transfer powers, known as a Section 30 order, to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh that would ensure that any referendum is legal.
The request came after the Sturgeon SNP, which forms the Scottish government, won 48 of the 59 seats in Scotland in the UK general election.
In his written response to Mrs. Sturgeon, the prime minister said he had “carefully considered and noted” his arguments.
But he said: “You and your predecessor (Alex Salmond) made a personal promise that the 2014 independence referendum was a” once in a generation “vote.
“The people of Scotland voted decisively on that promise to keep our United Kingdom together, a result that both the Scottish and British governments pledged to respect in the Edinburgh Agreement.”
Johnson said the UK government “will continue to defend the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the promise you made to them.”
And he said he didn’t want to see Scotland’s schools, hospitals and jobs “again abandoned due to a campaign to separate the United Kingdom.”
The prime minister added: “For that reason, I cannot accept any request for transfer of power that leads to more independence referendums.”
Ms. Sturgeon previously warned that a “no resounding” of Mr. Johnson to his request “would not be the end of the matter.”
But it has made it clear that it will not hold an unofficial referendum similar to the one held in Catalonia in 2017, arguing that it would not really provide independence, since the result would not be recognized by the EU or the international community in general.
The prime minister said: “Conservatives are terrified that Scotland has the right to choose our own future. They know that given the option, the overwhelming probability is that people will choose the positive option of independence.”
“The conservatives, and their allies in the directions of work and the liberal Democrats, lack a positive case for the union, so all they can do is try to block democracy.”
“It shows absolute disregard for the votes, opinions and interests of the people of Scotland and is a strategy that is doomed to failure.”
The perspective of an independence referendum on Nicola Sturgeon’s preferred calendar, the second half of 2020, now seems very remote.
The prime minister is confident that Johnson’s refusal will help defend long-term independence, but for now his options are limited.
In the first instance, he is planning another vote in Holyrood to underline the support of the MSPs for a new referendum. With the SNP and the Greens having a majority among them, this will surely happen, but this has happened before, in vain.
She has not ruled out going to court, but this would hardly speed things up: constitutional lawyers have warned that “there are no legal shortcuts” on the political battlefield.
Therefore, the next clear opportunity to break the deadlock may be the 2021 Holyrood elections. Ms. Sturgeon clearly already has an eye on that survey, talking about conservatives being on a “way back to political oblivion.”
Between now and then, another year of constitutional stalemate calls.