Scots could have a second independence referendum if polling consistently shows support for one at 60 per cent, according to the UK’s Scotland secretary.
In the first time a minister has hinted at what the bar could be for a fresh vote, Alister Jack told Politico: “If you consistently saw 60 percent of the population wanting a referendum — not wanting independence but wanting a referendum [to take place] — and that was sustained over a reasonably long period, then I would acknowledge that there was a desire for a referendum.”
It comes after Jack’s colleague Michael Gove told the Sunday Mail earlier in August that “if it is the case that there is clearly a settled will in favor of a referendum, then one will occur.”
Ever since losing the last independence referendum in 2014, the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) have lobbied for another vote.
Leader of the party and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon believes there is now a mandate for a second vote due to the combined factors of Brexit – which Scotland did not vote for – and the fact that the SNP and Green Party won a combined majority in this year’s Holyrood election.
Following the 2014 vote, PM of the time David Cameron declared the matter was “settled for a generation”, and Boris Johnson has consistently rejected calls to revisit the vote.
Despite outlining a potential criteria for a rerun, Jack said that it was “not where we are” or “how I perceive things to be.”
“I think I’m broadly where the public are, which is that now is not the time to be having a referendum. We’ve had one, we’ve made our decision, let’s get on and rebuild the economy and rebuild people’s lives,” he added.
Sturgeon has said her immediate focus is the Covid recovery, but that before the end of the current Westminster parliamentary term she will push for a second referendum.
She has said the argument that the nations of the United Kingdom are equals “completely disintegrates” if the UK Government refuses to allow another vote on independence.