New Scottish independence referendum won't be 'any time soon', says Kenny MacAskill

Boris Johnson is intent on turning the UK into the 51st state of the US, with independence for Scotland the only way to escape this, a former Holyrood cabinet secretary and newly-elected SNP MP has claimed.

Boris Johnson has vowed to oppose a bid by Nicola Sturgeon to secure a second independence referendum. Mr MacAskill said it did not appear as if such a vote would be held "any time soon".

The newly elected MP for East Lothian also warned that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is intent on turning the UK into the “51st state” of the USA.

But it came as it emerged that the Prime Minister has pledged the Tories “will be back” in Scotland after losing more than half of its seats in the election this month. Mr Johnson has already vowed to oppose a bid by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to secure a second independence referendum.

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MacAskill launched an outspoken attack on the Tory leader who he claimed was “undermining” the UK welfare state and attacking the country’s “social and civic infrastructure”.

Mr MacAskill said the priority must now be to protect the country’s social infrastructure such as the NHS and welfare state which is under threat from the newly strengthened Johnson administration.

He also insisted the Tories and their right-wing policies would “act as recruiting sergeant” for the independence cause.

“We do need to push for a second independence referendum, that is the democratic right of the Scottish people,” MacAskill said on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland yesterday. “The intransigent attitude of the Prime Minister is undemocratic to say the very least.

“Equally, it does seem that it is not coming immediately, or indeed in any time soon, and on that basis we have both to use the time wisely, to build the base so that when we go, we win handsomely.”

Ms Sturgeon last week set out a detailed case for the transfer of power from Westminster to Holyrood, in the form of a Section 30 order, which would allow a repeat of the 2014 referendum to be staged. It follows the landslide victory for the Nationalists in the election north of the Border earlier this month which saw them take 48 out of the country’s 59 seats.

The SNP leader wants this to take place next year and insists that Scots must be given the option of independence to avoid Brexit after the majority opposed it in the 2016 EU referendum.

Mr Johnson has insisted that he will refuse a transfer of power which would pave the way for such a vote. Despite hinting at a legal challenge, Ms Sturgeon has so far stopped short of setting out how she will react if he refuses to budge.

The former justice secretary made a return to frontline politics when he won the East Lothian constituency a fortnight ago from Labour’s Martin Whitfield in a three-way battle which also saw the Tories perform strongly.

And he warned that the impact of a Johnson majority administration on Scotland could result in the same kind of damage as Margaret Thatcher’s regime a generation previously.

“It is quite clear that this Prime Minister, he said it himself in his Queen’s Speech, is proposing a transformative budget,” MacAskill added.

“Forty years on from Thatcher when she attacked our industrial base, he is now out to attack the social and civic infrastructure that we have in our welfare state.

“I think we have good reason to fear the attack upon working people’s terms and conditions, we see that in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, an attack upon the NHS as he continues his dalliance with President Trump.

“As well as building the base for indyref2, we have to protect the values that we cherish and that were built in this country by our parents’ and our grandparents’ generation.”

Mr MacAskill added: “I think by the time we get to next year the people of Scotland are going to realise the direction of travel that Boris Johnson is taking Britain on.

“The only way to avoid being taken into becoming the 51st state, a country where the welfare state is being dismantled before our very eyes, is to vote for independence and to become an independent nation in the European Union.”