Two leading candidates to replace Theresa May as Prime Ministers today ruled out handing Holyrood authority to stage a second referendum on Scottish independence.
UK Justice Secretary Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart spoke out on the day that the Scottish Government published legislation that would pave the way for a second vote on leaving the UK.
A repeat of the 2014 vote would require a transfer of power through a Section 30 order to Holyrood and the Scottish Government's Constitutional Relations Secretary confirmed it was the intention to seek this from Theresa May's replacement.
“We intend at a future date to negotiate with the UK Government for a Section 30 order to put beyond doubt our competence to hold a referendum on independence," Mike Russell told MSPs at Holyrood as the Referendums (Scotland) Bill was published.
But Mr Javid immediately made it clear he would be taking a hard line against a second vote.
"If I become PM, I won’t allow a second Scottish independence referendum," he said on Twitter.
"People stated views clearly in 2014, so there should be no second vote. Nicola Sturgeon should spend more time improving public services in Scotland, and less time grandstanding."
Mr Stewart also responded the publication of the legislation in unequivocal terms today. "In everything we do and everything we say in this leadership race we should remember that the key is to unify the country and not divide the United Kingdom" he added on Twitter. The legislation laid in the Scottish Parliament today provides a legal framework for the holding of referendums on any matters within Scotland’s control
.It will enable a repeat of the 2014 vote on leaving the UK to be staged in a "timely fashion."
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today she wants this to happen by the end of the current Scottish Parliament term of May 2021 and said this week she wants it next year.
“An independence referendum within this parliamentary term will give Scotland the opportunity to choose to be an independent European nation - rather than have a Brexit future imposed upon us," she said.
But the move was branded a "stunt" by Tory Constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins.
“The tabling of this legislation is merely another opportunity to allow the First Minister to talk about her pet obsession with the break-up of Britain," he said.