Boris Johnson has reiterated his opposition to a second vote on Scottish independence during a call with Nicola Sturgeon, despite her saying it is now a “democratic right”.
The First Minister confirmed she will formally request the powers for Holyrood to hold a ballot after the SNP’s victory in Scotland in a “watershed” General Election.
Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would “publish the detailed democratic case for a transfer of power to enable a referendum to be put beyond legal challenge”.
However during the call on Friday the Prime Minister continued to play down such a move and said the result of the original vote five years ago “should be respected”.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister spoke to First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon earlier this evening, where he reiterated his unwavering commitment to strengthening the union.
“On Brexit, the Prime Minister said that he is now in a position to get this done in a way that allows the whole of the UK to move forward together, providing certainty for Scottish businesses and improving the lives of people right across Scotland.
“The Prime Minister made clear how he remained opposed to a second independence referendum, standing with the majority of people in Scotland who do not want to return to division and uncertainty.
“He added how the result of the 2014 referendum was decisive and should be respected.”
In a prompt response on social media, Ms Sturgeon tweeted: “And I made clear that @theSNP mandate to give people a choice must be respected – just as he expects his mandate to be respected.”
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) December 13, 2019
The SNP increased its tally of MPs to 48 as the Conservatives lost more than half the seats they had held north of the border.
Earlier on Friday Ms Sturgeon said Scotland had chosen a different future than the rest of the UK, adding the “stunning” result “renews, reinforces and strengthens” the mandate for a fresh vote on independence.
Mr Johnson has previously stated he is not prepared to grant a Section 30 order – which would transfer the power to Holyrood to hold a referendum.
Speaking at a press conference in Edinburgh, the SNP leader said: “This is not about asking Boris Johnson or any other Westminster politician for permission.
“It is an assertion of the democratic right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future.”
The Conservatives were left with six MPs in Scotland, after having won 13 seats two years previously, in what Ms Sturgeon called a “crushing defeat in Scotland”.
The First Minister also said: “It is clear that the kind of future desired by the majority in Scotland is different to that chosen by the rest of the UK.
“Scotland has rejected Boris Johnson and the Tories and, yet again, we have said no to Brexit.”
Ms Sturgeon’s SNP won 45% of the vote in Scotland – a slightly higher amount than the 43.6% of the vote Mr Johnson’s Tories secured across the UK.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of the pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union, said: “This election result is not a mandate for a divisive second independence referendum.
“Despite the seats won, a majority of people in Scotland, 54%, voted for pro-UK parties.”