17:31 GMT17 June 2021
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    Earlier this year, the SNP unveiled what it described as a "roadmap" to a second independence vote. The 11-point plan specifically notes that any attempt by the UK government to oppose the referendum will be "vigorously opposed" in the courts.

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly told the Scottish National Party (SNP) to focus on economic recovery from the coronavirus rather than continue to push for a second independence referendum in Scotland.

    The Daily Express reported on Tuesday that Johnson remains "firm" in the face of the referendum-related demands from SNP leader in the House of Commons Ian Blackford, who urged the UK prime minister "to respect the will of the Scottish people".

    The newspaper quoted a Johnson spokesperson as saying that "throughout the recent elections all party leaders across the UK said COVID recovery should be our shared priority and that's what the UK government is going to be focusing on".

    The call came after the SNP celebrated its fourth successive victory in Scottish parliamentary elections, which Blackford claimed gives it a "cast iron mandate for a post [COVID-19] pandemic independence referendum".

    © REUTERS / RUSSELL CHEYNE
    Sturgeon makes coronavirus statement in Scottish parliament, Edinburgh

    The remarks followed Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon telling Johnson during a phone call that a second independence vote is "now a matter of when - not if".

    She spoke a few days after the British PM told The Telegraph that holding the referendum "in the current context is irresponsible and reckless".

    Last month, Sturgeon argued that the UK government "can't stand in the way" of the referendum, saying she believed that putting a referendum bill through the Scottish parliament would not be necessary.

    The discussion within the UK government has since "moved away from 'we can stop a referendum' to 'when would it happen, and on what basis would it happen'", the first minister asserted.

    Prime Minister Johnson has repeatedly rejected calls for a second Scottish referendum, stressing the previous vote had already resolved the issue.

    Scotland held an independence plebiscite in September 2014, when 55 percent of voters cast ballots in favour of remaining in the United Kingdom. In the June 2016 Brexit referendum, 62 percent of Scots voted to remain in the EU.

    Related:

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    PM Johnson Calls for ‘One Truly United Kingdom’ as Scotland's Sturgeon Seeks 2nd Referendum
    Nicola Sturgeon Says Scotland Will Hold 'Legal Referendum' if SNP Wins Majority in May Elections
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    government, Scotland, independence referendum, SNP, Nicola Sturgeon, Boris Johnson, Britain
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