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PM rejects SNP calls for second Scottish independence referendum

Boris Johnson told MPs during PMQs that the people of Scotland had ‘voted decisively’ to stay in the UK.

Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon (PA)
Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon (PA)

By Elizabeth Arnold and George Ryan, PA Political Staff

The Prime Minister and his Scottish secretary have rejected calls for a second independence referendum amid renewed pressure from the SNP.

Boris Johnson told MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions that the people of Scotland “voted decisively” in 2014 to stay in the UK in a “once in a generation choice”.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack confirmed the UK Government had received Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s request for a second independence referendum.

Why is this Conservative Government dismissing the will of the people of Scotland, ignoring their voices and disregarding our Parliament? Ian Blackford

Speaking during Commons Scotland questions, Mr Jack said “it would be completely wrong for us to hand those powers over to the Scottish Parliament because we would end up in a series of never-endums”.

Mr Johnson later clashed with SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford over the issue during PMQs.

Mr Blackford asked: “Who should determine the future of Scotland? The Prime Minister or the people who live in Scotland?”

Responding, Mr Johnson said: “I think the answer is very clear, it’s the people of Scotland who voted decisively only four, five years ago, to stay … members of the most successful political partnership in history by a decisive majority in a once in a generation choice.”

Mr Blackford added: “Today, the Scottish Parliament will decline legislative consent to the Withdrawal Bill we’re deliberating later today.

“Why is this Conservative Government dismissing the will of the people of Scotland, ignoring their voices and disregarding our Parliament?”

Mr Johnson added: “I think the real question is why does the SNP keep going on about breaking up the most successful union in history? To distract from their abundant failures in Government?”

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Alister Jack said it would be wrong to hand over powers to set referendums to the Scottish Parliament (Victoria Jones/PA)

Mr Jack also faced repeated questions at the despatch box from the SNP over a second independence referendum.

Airdrie and Shotts SNP MP Neil Gray questioned the Government’s decision to refuse the poll.

He said: “His party enjoys 43% of the vote to deliver Brexit and yet denies the SNP its right to give the people of Scotland its say with the 45% of the vote in Scotland that we have secured.”

Mr Jack replied: “The First Minister has asked for the right to set referendums in the future, to decide the context of those.

“We are very clear about this. Constitutional matters are reserved and it would be completely wrong for us to hands those powers over to the Scottish Parliament because we would end up in a series of never-endums.”

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Kirsty Blackman said Scottish people’s voices had been ignored (PA)

The SNP’s deputy Westminster leader Kirsty Blackman accused the Government of ignoring Scottish voters.

She said: “The UK Government has ignored Scottish people’s voices and votes in every election and referendum since 2016, careering on with both Brexit and austerity.

“Can the Secretary of State inform us what precise electoral event would convince him that Scotland people should have the right to choose their own future?”

Mr Jack replied: “Regarding whether the time will be right, both Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond at the time said it was a ‘once in a generation, once in a lifetime decision’. I don’t feel a generation or a lifetime has passed.”

Former Scottish secretary David Mundell called on the First Minister to accept the 2014 result.

He said: “Does he agree with me though that this document is just another expensive and time-wasting stunt by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP?

“The people of Scotland chose, they chose in 2014 decisively to remain in the UK and it’s time Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP accepted that and move on.”

Mr Jack said: “It’s quite clear that the Scottish Government constantly harp on about independence and separation because they want to deflect from the main issue and the main issue is that they are failing in our school standards and they are failing our NHS.”

PA

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