| LONDON, March 17
LONDON, March 17 Prime Minister Theresa May
pledged on Friday to fight for the "precious, precious union" of
the United Kingdom, unveiling what she called her Plan for
Britain with a warning to Scotland not to pursue its
May, appointed prime minister soon after Britain voted to
leave the European Union in a referendum last June, said she
would negotiate a Brexit deal for the whole country but needed
everyone to pull together to get the best outcome.
Facing two years of what are likely to be difficult talks
for Britain, May wants to stamp her authority on a new agenda
for the country but is struggling to repair the deep divisions
exposed by the Brexit vote.
Nationalists in Scotland have condemned her move to block
their demands for a new independence referendum before the EU
talks end as an "outrage", and Northern Ireland's largest Irish
nationalist party says it wants a vote on splitting from Britain
after both regions voted to stay in the bloc.
"The coming negotiations with the EU will be vital for
everyone in the United Kingdom ... It is essential that we get
the right deal, and that all of our efforts and energies as a
country and focused on that outcome," May told her party.
"We need to do so united, as one United Kingdom, all pulling
together to get the best outcome," she said, promising to ensure
all the voices and interests in England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland are represented.
"I will always fight to strengthen and sustain this
precious, precious Union," she added.
It will not be an easy fight.
The ruling Scottish National Party in Edinburgh has refused
to back down over its demand for a new independence vote after
May said: "Now is not the time". Some lawmakers suggest her
tough stance could spur support for a new referendum.
May did not linger on Brexit in her speech, saying simply
she would adopt a "phased approach" to deliver a "smooth and
orderly Brexit" and offer certainty wherever possible.
Instead, she wanted to reinforce her pitch for the political
centre ground and move the conversation away from the EU and
Scotland. She pledged to boost technical training, reform energy
markets and increase selective schools.
"Our Plan for Britain is a plan for a brighter future," she
said. "A plan to make the most of the opportunities ahead and to
build a stronger, fairer Britain that is more united and more
(Editing by Stephen Addison)