Britain’s Prime Minister has said “now is not the time” for a second referendum on Scottish independence, but Theresa May did not explicitly rule out a future referendum. May’s remarks to ITV News came three days after Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said she’d ask Scotland’s parliament next week to formally seek the U.K. government’s approval for a new referendum on independence. Sturgeon wants to hold the vote sometime between the fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019. Her decision was prompted by the U.K.’s Brexit vote last summer. Britons voted 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the EU, but in Scotland 62 percent of voters chose to remain in the bloc. Scottish politicians maintain Brexit would affect Scotland, though a majority of its citizens want to stay in the EU. The process of Brexit, which May wants to trigger by the end of this month, is expected to take two years. A Scottish referendum, if the U.K. government gives permission for one, would fall within that period of negotiations. May said Thursday: “To be talking about an independence referendum would I think make it more difficult for us to be able to get the right deal for Scotland and the right deal for the U.K.” Sturgeon responded to May’s remarks Thursday by saying blocking an independence vote would be “undemocratic.” Scotland’s parliament is still expected to vote next week on the request. The previous Scottish referendum on independence, in 2014, resulted in 55 percent of voters opting to stay in the U.K. and 45 percent voting to leave.
—European leaders are welcoming the defeat in yesterday’s Dutch election of the far-right Freedom Party (PVV), which is headed by Geert Wilders. More here
—Britain’s Prime Minister has said “now is not the time” for a second referendum on Scottish independence, but Theresa May did not explicitly rule out a future referendum. More here
—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
'Now Is Not the Time' for Scottish Referendum, British Prime Minister Says
Europe Welcomes Election Results as Dutch Say ‘Whoa! to the Wrong Kind of Populism'
French President Francois Hollande called it a “clear victory against extremism.” Peter Altmaier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, tweeted: “The Netherlands, oh the Netherlands you are a champion!” Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said “No Nexit,” while Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s leader, tweeted “Populism didn’t pay off.” Their unrestrained joy was in response to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s victory yesterday in the Dutch elections over Geert Wilders, the anti-EU, anti-Muslim, far-right leader who heads the Freedom Party (PVV). Although Rutte’s center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) lost eight seats in the election, it still emerged the single-largest party in the 150-seat Dutch parliament, capturing 33 seats in the national election. Wilders’ PVV, which was running neck and neck with the VVD in most polls, finished with 20, a gain of five seats from the last election, but substantially lower than the 30 seats it had hoped to capture. The turnout was huge: Nearly 80 percent of eligible Dutch voters cast their ballots—and the big winners were center-right parties and the center-left Greens, all of which are strong supporters of the European project and of the EU itself. The center-left Labour Party, which was a member of the last coalition government headed by Rutte, lost 29 seats in parliament; it now has nine. Rutte will still need to form a coalition government, but should not have trouble cobbling one together. For now, the European establishment—fearing what might come later this year in French and German elections—expressed relief the Dutch managed to stave off the populism that swept the U.K. and the U.S. As Rutte put it in his victory speech: “The Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘Whoa!’ to the wrong kind of populism.”
Trump to Send His Budget to Congress
President Trump will send his budget to Congress this morning, a spending plan that outlines steep cuts to the U.S. State Department and the Environmental Protection agency, but sees sharp spending increases for the Defense Department, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Homeland Security—spending priorities that are consistent with Donald Trump’s promises as a presidential candidate. My colleague Russell Berman wrote about what happens next:
[Mike] Mulvaney [the president’s budget director] said his office crafted the budget by going back and translating Trump’s actual words as a candidate into numbers. That makes sense—few responsibilities in presidential governing more closely resemble a campaign platform than the submission of a budget. It’s primarily a wish list of priorities that Congress is free to accept or ignore, and unlike traditional legislation, the final product is not something Trump will sign or veto. Republicans in the House and Senate will draft their own budget proposals, and it is the one they pass that will form the basis of the appropriation bills that actually fund the government’s departments and agencies.
The Trump blueprint, known in Washington as the “skinny budget,” will have more detail than his campaign proposals, but not as much as a full budget; that won’t come until May. The document released Thursday will have top-line numbers requested for each agency, but not a line-item breakdown of which individual programs the administration wants to cut. …
If enacted, Trump’s domestic cuts would likely result in a historic reduction in the size of the federal workforce, a development that would have significant ramifications for the economy of Washington, D.C., and surrounding suburbs in Maryland and northern Virginia.
You can read the president’s budget proposal here.
Federal Judge in Maryland Blocks Part of Trump's Travel Ban
A federal judge in Maryland blocked Thursday the portion of President Trump’s revised executive order than bars for 90 days travelers from six Muslim or predominantly Muslim countries. The decision by Judge Theodore D. Chuang does not apply to the part of the order that suspends the U.S. refugee intake for 120 days. Trump’s order was scheduled to go into effect at midnight Thursday, but was temporarily blocked Wednesday by another federal judge, this one in Hawaii, who said it violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Hawaii ruling relied on remarks made by Donald Trump, when he was a candidate, about Islam, and by his aides who said the revised order was, in essence, the same as the initial executive order. That first order suspended for 90 days travelers from six Muslim or predominantly Muslim countries—Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan—and stopped the U.S. refugee intake for 120 days; it also barred all Syrian refugees indefinitely. The revised order, which came after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s order blocking the first executive order from going into effect, dropped Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens would be blocked temporarily from entering the U.S. There were other changes, too, including the lifting of the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. Both the Hawaii order, as well as the one issued in Maryland early this morning, apply nationwide. Trump, speaking at a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, last night called the Hawii judge’s order “bad … sad news.” Read the Maryland order here and the Hawaii order here.