Scottish independence: Former Scottish secretary declares will be 'no major change' on indyref2 by new prime minister

Former Scottish secretary David Mundell has declared there will be “no major change” to the UK Government’s stance on Scottish independence regardless of who wins the Tory leadership race.

Former Scottish Secretary David Mundell said a new prime minister would make no difference to the UK approach to independence. Picture: PA
Former Scottish Secretary David Mundell said a new prime minister would make no difference to the UK approach to independence. Picture: PA

Mr Mundell claimed the priorities for the incoming prime minister would be tackling the cost-of-living crisis as he stressed the issues facing Scotland were the same as the rest of the UK.

Speaking ahead of the Scottish Tory hustings in Perth today, the senior Tory, who has publicly backed Liz Truss to replace Boris Johnson, told The Scotsman: “The big issues in Scotland are what they are in the rest of the UK, other than the ongoing constitutional issue.

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“They remain the cost-of-living crisis, bringing the country back to stability after Covid, seeing through Brexit and the war in Ukraine.

“I don’t expect there to be a major change on the UK Government’s approach to having another independence referendum, though obviously we have the Supreme Court deliberation.

“I also don’t think that either Liz or Rishi [Sunak] would have sent any different a letter to Boris Johnson in relation to the request to move forward with a referendum.”

The Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP, who served as Scottish secretary from 2015 to 2019, also predicted more action on cost-of-living problems.

He said: “Liz’s overarching philosophy is people should keep more of their own money and pay less in tax and national insurance.

“It’s clear if the scale of the increases are now what they are predicting, than further action needs to be taken.

“But that action does need to be targets to those most in need, and my understanding is that the treasury are looking at the options to present that to the next prime minister.”

Mr Mundell also defended no action being taken during the Conservative leadership race.

He said: “The reality is that less than four weeks we will have essentially a new government. In terms of taking action, essentially it will need to be that government that takes action.

“What needs to be done right now is all the options can be analysed and then set out for the incoming prime minister.

“There needs to be focused assistance for the most vulnerable, but I agree with Liz’s proposition that there is no point in taking money off people just to give it back to them.

“The starting point is to keep as much money as possible in people’s pockets.”

Asked how the new prime minister would fare compared to Mr Johnson, Mr Mundell warned they would be judged on “their actions”.

He said: “Anybody who is a new prime minister will have to earn their own stripes.

“The handling of these big issues, I think it’s a case of let’s give the person who’s been prime minister time to demonstrate their ability.

“Whether or not people like someone or not is not the basis of how they determine their vote, people’s votes are driven by their principles.”

There was also a defence of Ms Truss’s comments directed towards Nicola Sturgeon, with the foreign secretary having called the First Minister an “attention-seeker” at a hustings earlier this month.

Mr Mundell said: “As emerged later, that’s not a phrase that Nicola was unfamiliar with, having used it to describe the leader of the Liberal Democrats. I think she even added the word pathetic.

“The nature of modern politics is robust exchange.

"People might want that to change. Every so often people say we must make these exchanges more civilised and less robust and that lasts about five minutes.

"I remember 17 years ago when David Cameron became prime minister and agreed to adopt a much less aggressive and inquisitorial tone at PMQs and that lasted about two weeks because people complained he wasn’t robust enough at holding the government to account.”

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