Indyref2: Scottish Secretary rejects new vote ‘for a generation’

By Glenn Campbell
Chief political correspondent, BBC Scotland

Publishedduration8 hours ago

image captionAlister Jack said a generation was “certainly not six years, nor 10”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has said the UK government intends to refuse another independence referendum “for a generation”.

In a BBC interview, Mr Jack suggested a generation could be “25 or 40 years”.

SNP MP Pete Wishart said UK ministers would be “taking on democracy” if they refused demands from MSPs for indyref2.

Meanwhile, former Tory minister Lord Dunlop has said Boris Johnson urgently needs a clear strategy to counter rising support for independence.

Ten opinion polls since June have suggested a majority now favour independence, with 54% on average backing yes.

The UK government has consistently opposed a new vote, and Mr Jack has sought to harden this position.

When asked if ministers were ruling out a referendum for the full term of the next Scottish Parliament, regardless of the election outcome, he said “it’s no for a generation”.

Asked to define a generation, he said: “Is it 25 years or is it 40 years? You tell me. But it’s certainly not six years, nor 10”.

The SNP argue that this pre-election position will change if they win well in 2021 with a clear manifesto commitment to holding indyref2.

Mr Wishart – the party’s longest serving MP – said the prime minister would be flying in the face of democracy itself if he continued to refuse.

The apparent increase in support for independence is fuelling debates about strategy on both sides of Scotland’s constitutional divide, with six months to go to the 2021 Holyrood election.

image captionPete Wishart has urged independence supporters not to “beat ourselves” with infighting

Lord Dunlop has called on Boris Johnson to demonstrate “strong leadership and statesmanship” and urgently come up with a “clear, coherent and consistent strategy for the Union”.

The former Scotland office minister wants more co-operation between the UK and devolved governments with a new forum in which they would take decisions together.

Having reviewed the workings of the union for the prime minister, he is “very disappointed” the report he submitted a year ago has not yet been published or fully implemented.

He is also critical of the UK government’s internal market bill as an expression of a more “muscular unionism” that he believes risks “alienating moderate and middle-of-the-road Scots”.

Mr Jack insists the bill is necessary to protect jobs and trade throughout the UK and that there is a strategy to bolster the union.

Analysis – anxiety on both sides?

The next Holyrood election, due in exactly six months, will certainly be about how best to overcome the coronavirus crisis.

It will also be about who’s best placed to take the key decisions and whether that should be tested in another independence referendum.

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