, LONDON, United Kingdom, Jul 15 – Theresa May was heading to Scotland on Friday in her first visit as Britain’s new prime minister, stressing her bid to maintain UK unity in the Brexit vote fall-out.
May was due in Edinburgh for talks with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has threatened another referendum on Scottish independence following Britain’s seismic vote to leave the European Union.
May took office on Wednesday after David Cameron stepped down as premier in the wake of the June 23 referendum.
- European leaders have pressed May to move quickly in implementing Brexit, amid fears of the damage the continued uncertainty could do to the EU and the world economy
- In the June 23 referendum, 52 percent of voters backed leaving the EU, on a 72 percent turnout
- In Scotland, 62 percent voted for Britain to stay in, on a 67 percent turnout
She has set about culling his ministers — and stunned world capitals by appointing the often undiplomatic Brexit spearhead Boris Johnson as foreign secretary.
The referendum result sent shockwaves around the world and sparked fears of an economic downturn as Britain potentially faces exclusion from its biggest trading market — a key concern for Sturgeon.
A majority of voters in Scotland wanted Britain to stay in the EU and nationalist leader Sturgeon sees this as a possible pretext for another independence referendum.
Scots voted in September 2014 to remain part of the United Kingdom, which has endured for three centuries.
In heading swiftly to Edinburgh, May, the new leader of the centre-right Conservative and Unionist Party, would emphasise her strong support for the union and affirm her commitment to keeping Sturgeon’s devolved administration involved in the Brexit negotiations, a Downing Street spokesman said.
– May’s UK unity concern –
“I believe with all my heart in the United Kingdom,” May said in a statement.
“This visit to Scotland is my first as prime minister and I’m coming here to show my commitment to preserving this special union.”
She told Scots her government would “always be on your side”.
“We are going to build a better Britain and a nation that works for everyone — not just the privileged few,” she added.
In the June 23 referendum, 52 percent of voters backed leaving the EU, on a 72 percent turnout.
In Scotland, 62 percent voted for Britain to stay in, on a 67 percent turnout.
“We’ve got perhaps different views on what should happen now in terms of the Brexit vote,” said Sturgeon, who heads the left-wing secessionist Scottish National Party.