United Kingdom govt says Scottish Brexit proposal could disrupt trade

Mrs May has turned down First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second independence referendum to try and protect Scotland's status in the European single market, and will reiterate her insistence that voting Tory will bolster her hand in Brexit negotiations due to begin after the June 8 election.

But the SNP said Labour was likely to "disappear into political oblivion" at the election.

But he stressed that the "big issue in this election is this party's future post the Brexit referendum".

"The result is a negotiating position set out exclusively by the United Kingdom government rather than what was set out in the terms of reference, namely to agree a United Kingdom approach", Russell said.

He compared Mrs May to Tony Blair, whose premiership he said showed what can go wrong if leaders go unchallenged because his Labour government "bought into Conservative ideas" about the economy that left Britain with no defence against the financial crisis.

Twenty years after Tony Blair swept to power with a landslide vote, Mr Darling appeared to rule out the prospect of a Labour victory.

"Labour should also be concentrating on stopping the Tories - by pandering to the Tories they are letting down voters in this election. The majority of people in Scotland believe that together we're stronger by remaining in the United Kingdom".

"The fact they are reduced to parroting Tory slogans and reminiscing about elections 20 years ago shows how utterly irrelevant Labour have become".

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Ms May's visit to oil and gas companies in Aberdeenshire will have done little to thaw frosty relations with Scotland's SNP leadership and voter base which is battling against a Tory-led government in Westminster. "It's very clear that even people who voted Yes in 2014, they don't want one".

Scotland's devolved government, run by Sturgeon's Scottish National Party (SNP), says this means the country should be given a new chance to decide whether it wants to split from the UK.

The Scottish government now provides 16 hours a week of free childcare for three- and four-years-olds and vulnerable two-years-olds, and has pledged increase this to 30 hours by 2020.

Ms May has been widely criticised by the Scottish National Party and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for not granting the Scots permission to hold a second independence referendum between 2018 and 2019.

Research by YouGov for The Times in Scotland put support for the Conservatives on 28% - behind the SNP, who were on 41%.

Another SNP MP, Tommy Sheppard, has pleaded with the pro-separation Scottish Green Party not to run in seats the Conservatives are targeting, to avoid "splitting the pro-Yes vote [and] the anti-Tory vote".

The number of Liberal Democrats and independent candidates is unchanged at 247 and 499 respectively, and there are 148 candidates from other parties.

Voters will go to the polls in the council election on Thursday.

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