The new Secretary of State for Scotland has vowed to fight SNP calls for another referendum on independence “with all of my being”.
Alister Jack, who was appointed by Boris Johnson as part of a sweeping Cabinet reshuffle last week, admitted that he was little known outside of political circles but pledged to be a firm supporter of the Union.
The MP for Dumfries and Galloway also revealed he was inspired to stand as a Tory candidate at the 2017 general election after becoming “enraged” by Nicola Sturgeon calling for an IndyRef2 in the wake of Brexit.
“I will continue to resist calls for independence with all of my being,” he said. “In 2014, the people of Scotland voted to remain part of a strong, secure, prosperous United Kingdom.
“We will stand up for their decision against those who would still try to impose unwanted and divisive constitutional change.”
He continued: “My message to the SNP is this - respect the views of the people of Scotland and respect your own promise that this was a ‘once in a generation’ vote.”
Mr Jack’s comments were published ahead of Mr Johnson’s first official visit to Scotland since replacing Theresa May as prime minister last week. The new Conservative leader is expected to meet with the First Minister at Bute House this afternoon, where the issue of a possible No Deal Brexit will dominate the agenda.
The new Scottish Secretary has previously advocated a “clean break” with the European Union. “The new prime minister wants us to leave with a new deal. I want us to leave with a new deal. Mr Johnson has been clear he will work flat out to achieve a deal. But we need to accept the EU has said it is unwilling to negotiate,” Mr Jack wrote in a column in the Daily Mail.
“We shouldn’t be afraid of a No Deal, because, come what may, we are leaving on October 31.”
The SNP has been asked for comment.