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Sturgeon BACKS DOWN on legal threat over referendum

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Sturgeon BACKS DOWN on legal threat over referendumNicola Sturgeon today backed down on threats to take Theresa May to court for refusing to hold a fresh Scottish independence referendum.The First Minister had raised the prospect of a legal challenge by claiming earlier this week that Westminster's power over constitutional issues was 'untested'.Miss Sturgeon, who is on a visit to the US, argued that the 'vague' way the Scottish Parliament was set up left questions over who could authorise a vote.But pushed this morning on whether she would ask judges to rule on the situation, the SNP leader said she would stick to 'political' wrangling.'It is absolutely essential that if the will of the Scottish Parliament is for a referendum then that should be respected,' Miss Sturgeon told BBC Scotland."I don't think there is any need, nor is there any intention, to see a matter that should be settled politically end up in the courts."The climbdown will be welcomed by Downing Street, which has been fighting the bid to exploit Brexit to rip the UK apart.Miss Sturgeon dramatically demanded a referendum last month just days before Mrs May triggered Article 50. She said a vote should be held as early as next Autumn - before Brexit is finalised.But the Prime Minister has made clear that 'now is not the time' after the Scottish people expressed their desire to stay in the union in 2014.Miss Sturgeon suffered another blow yesterday when it emerged Scotland's economy shrank in the final three months of 2016, dragged down by the ailing oil and gas industry.The economy shrank by 0.2 per cent in the final quarter of 2016 - while the wider UK economy grew by 0.7 per cent.Another negative figure in the first quarter of 2017 would mean Scotland is officially in recession.It means in 2016 overall Scotland grew much more slowly than the UK, by 0.4 per cent to 1.8 per cent.Scotland has been falling behind the wider UK since the immediate aftermath of the 2014 independence referendum.The statistics reveal that the struggles in Scottish production - dominated by an oil and gas industry battered by the collapse in the oil price - led the downturn.The SNP blamed Brexit for the downturn.Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said despite 'challenges' such as a slump in North Sea oil and gas, the 'foundations of our economy are strong'.Mr Mackay said: 'Scotland's economy faces continued headwinds, such as the slowdown in the oil and gas sector and weak global demand.'

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