Scottish independence: Jeremy Hunt says he won't allow Union to be broken

Jeremy Hunt has reaffirmed his opposition to Scottish independence by pledging he would "never allow our Union to be broken up".

Jeremy Hunt visited Peterhead, the UK's busiest fishing port, last weekend on the campaign trail
Jeremy Hunt visited Peterhead, the UK's busiest fishing port, last weekend on the campaign trail

The foreign secretary, who along with Boris Johnson is competing to become the next leader of the Conservatives, made the declaration in an online Q&Q last night.

Responding to a question asking if he would allow the SNP to stage another referendum on the matter, Mr Hunt made a point of showing off his British credentials. He said: "I've got Welsh blood, Irish blood and spent two happy years of my childhood in Scotland. I will never allow our union to be broken up."

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The Scottish Government has said it intends to hold a second referendum before the end of the current Holyrood term if, as expected, the UK leaves the European Union.

But UK Government ministers have repeatedly insisted they would not grant a Section 30 order, which temporarily allows devolved administrations the power to hold referendums on constitutional issues.

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Mr Hunt’s pledge drew a withering a response from Ian Blackford, the SNP's leader at Westminster, who said: "Jeremy, argue for unionism, nobody could deny your right to do so and I would be happy to debate this with you anywhere anytime but treat folk with respect as I will you. Saying you will never allow a union to be broken up is neither respectful or honourable."

The exchange was the latest episode in a row between the Hunt campaign and Nationalists. Yesterday, a spokesman for Nicola Sturgeon slammed a decision by the foreign secretary to withdraw UK Government diplomatic support for the First Minister on trips abroad. Mr Hunt has said this would apply when Ms Sturgeon is using trips to promote independence.

That prompted the SNP to attack the Tory candidate's record as health secretary, with Keith Brown claiming he poses "just as big a risk" to Scotland as Boris Johnson.