The Prime Minister has said her position will not change on Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second independence referendum by spring 2019.
Theresa May would not be drawn on whether a vote could take place further into the future, restating her view that “now is not the time” for another ballot.
The First Minister wants the powers to hold a referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, when she says the UK’s Brexit deal will become clear.
Speaking during a visit to Glasgow, and ahead of talks with Ms Sturgeon, Mrs May said a vote during that time frame would be “unfair” to the Scottish people.
“My position is very simple and it hasn’t changed,” she said.
“It is that now is not the time to be talking about a second independence referendum and that’s for a couple of reasons.
“First of all, now is the point when we are triggering Article 50, we’re starting negotiations for leaving the European Union. Now is the time when we should be pulling together, not hanging apart. Pulling together to make sure we get the best possible deal for the whole of the UK.
“Also I think it would be unfair on the people of Scotland to ask them to make a significant decision until all the facts were known, at a point where nobody knows what the situation is going to be.
“My position isn’t going to change, which is that now is not the time to be talking about a second independence referendum.”
The Prime Minister’s visit to Scotland comes a day before the Scottish Parliament is expected to pass a vote in favour of seeking another independence referendum, and two days before she triggers the Brexit process.
It follows a series of talks between UK ministers and those from the devolved nations over the UK’s approach to leaving the EU.
Scottish ministers say there has been no clarity over how Scotland’s interests will be represented as the Brexit process gets under way, and the role the Scottish Government will play in negotiations.
Speaking during her visit to Scotland, Mrs May also pledged Brexit would not mean the UK “stepping back from the world”, insisting she was aiming to build “a new partnership with Europe” while taking the opportunity to build “a more global Britain”.
The Prime Minister’s comments came ahead of her first meeting with Nicola Sturgeon since the First Minister announced plans for a second independence referendum triggered by the change to Scotland’s circumstances resulting from Brexit.
Addressing staff of the Department for International Development in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, Mrs May said: “We stand on the threshold of a significant moment for Britain as we begin the negotiations that will lead us towards a new partnership with Europe.
“I want to make it absolutely clear as we move through this process that this is not - in any sense - the moment that Britain steps back from the world.
“Indeed, we are going to take this opportunity to forge a more global Britain.
“The closest friend and ally with Europe, but also a country that looks beyond Europe to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.”
Promising to build “a more united nation”, Mrs May said: “As Britain leaves the European Union, and we forge a new role for ourselves in the world, the strength and stability of our Union will become even more important.”