THE new Prime Minister has insisted that Scotland has "had its vote" on independence, but stopped short of ruling out sanctioning a repeat referendum if it is backed by Holyrood.

Theresa May, asked after her Bute House summit with Nicola Sturgeon whether she would authorise a second independence vote, refused to answer directly instead saying "I think the question is: should there be another referendum?"

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The Herald: Prime Minister Theresa May (left) meets with Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House in Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 15, 2016. See PA story POLITICS Conservatives. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milli

While the constitution is a matter for London under the devolution settlement, Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that calling a vote to leave the UK in a bid to hang on to Scotland's EU status is "highly likely", following last month's EU referendum that leaves the country in line to be taken out of the bloc against the will of the public. Opinion polls have shown an increase in support for independence following the vote, indicating a narrow majority are now in favour.

Ms May added: "As far as I'm concerned the Scottish people had their vote, they voted in 2014, and a very clear message came through, both the United Kingdom and the Scottish Government said they would abide by that.

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"We now have the challenge though, as a United Kingdom, to ensure that we can get the best possible deal for the whole of the United Kingdom from the EU negotiations when the UK leaves the EU. I'm very clear that the Government I lead will be for all parts of the United Kingdom and for all people."

Following their talks, the First Minister again emphasised that another independence referendum remained on the table, despite her commitment to participate in talks with the UK Government in its bid to agree a UK-wide negotiating position before formally serving notice to quit the bloc.

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She said: "I’ve said previously that if we want to protect our relationship with the European Union then Scotland may have to consider becoming an independent member. If it proves not to be possible to fully protect Scotland’s interests through the UK process then the Prime Minister knows that a second independence referendum is of course on the table.

"However, I’ve also been consistently clear that I want to examine all options for protecting Scotland’s position, protecting our interests, protecting our relationship with the EU."

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The SNP leader later sent out an email to supporters updated them on talks with Ms May, in which she told them "with Scotland facing exit from the EU against our will, warm words about a 'special Union' won’t cut it. A Union that ignores our wishes would not be very special at all."

The Herald:

She did not mention independence explicitly but cryptically signed off the email with by stating: "I’ll be working tirelessly to protect Scotland place in Europe… come what may."

While the SNP does not have a majority at Holyrood, more than half of MSPs back independence taking into account the six Scottish Greens. Ms Sturgeon has already ordered civil servants to begin drafting legislation that would lead to a second vote, with Patrick Harvie, the Green co-convenor, indicating he would support it. However, the agreement of the UK Government would be needed, as it was ahead of the 2014 referendum, if it is to be legally binding.

David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, yesterday insisted there is "no mood" for a second independence referendum as he dismissed the idea of a special Brexit deal for Scotland as "fanciful".

He added: "Business in particular in Scotland isn't in a mood to have the issue of Scottish independence blurring the very, very important negotiations to get Scotland the best possible deal from the EU negotiations."