Michael Gove says 'flat no' to independence vote after Jeremy Hunt's three tests

Michael Gove has said he would respond with a “flat no” to any request from the Scottish Parliament to hold a second independence referendum

Michael Gove has ruled out giving permission for a second Scottish independence referendum

It came after one of his rivals in the Conservative leadership race, Jeremy Hunt, suggested he would open negotiations with the SNP on a second referendum if the party met certain conditions - including securing an outright majority at Holyrood in a Scottish election.

However, Mr Hunt appeared to row back from his ‘three tests’ while answering questions from journalists at Westminster on Monday, saying he wouldn’t allow the Union to be broken up “under any circumstances”.

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In setting out his tests for negotiations on a Section 30 order, which would grant the powers needed to hold a second independence referendum, Mr Hunt join Rory Stewart as the only Tory leadership candidate to entertain the idea of allowing indyref2.

Mr Stewart has said it would “break his heart” for Scotland to become independent, but added “I’m not against it in a dictatorial fashion. I would reason against it, I would make the arguments against it.”

As well as ruling out a second independence vote before the 2021 Scottish elections, Mr Hunt said the SNP had to provide clarity on currency an independent Scotland would use, and rule out the prospect of an illegal “wildcat” vote.

But asked about his tests on Tuesday, Mr Hunt said: “I am a unionist to my core. I have Welsh blood and Irish blood. I spent part of my childhood in Scotland.

“I will never do anything to allow our Union to be broken up, under any circumstances.”

Asked if he had any tests on opening negotiations with the Scottish Government, Mr Gove said: “It’s a flat no.”

Sajid Javid, who has Ruth Davidson’s backing, however has said that he would not “allow” a second Scottish independence referendum.