'Sneering, arrogant' remarks from Michael Gove strengthening Scottish independence support, says Nicola Sturgeon

The “sneering, arrogant condescension” by Michael Gove in comments about another referendum are strengthening support for Scottish independence, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The UK Cabinet Office minister has said he “can’t see” Boris Johnson agreeing to another vote before the next general election, adding it is “reckless” to discuss the issue while the country is still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

But Scotland’s First Minister said the argument the nations of the United Kingdom are equals “completely disintegrates” if the UK Government refuses to allow another vote on independence.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Andrew Milligan - WPA Pool/Getty Images
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Ms Sturgeon said: “Every time we hear that kind of sneering, arrogant condescension from Michael Gove – or whatever UK Government minister it may be – completely refusing to accept Scottish democracy, actually the more they just build support for independence.

“If we can’t even have a UK Government that respects the choices we make democratically, which – in an election just a matter of weeks ago – was an overwhelming victory for the SNP on the manifesto commitment to have the choice of independence, not to force independence on people, but to give people the choice at the right moment after we’re out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“If that can’t even be respected, then the idea that the UK is a partnership of equals just completely disintegrates.”

Mr Gove – who is responsible for countering the push for independence – said the Prime Minister would be completely focused on recovery from the pandemic “for the lifetime of this Parliament”.

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Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the next general election is not due until May 2024 – although Mr Johnson is committed to repealing the Act, which could allow him to go to the country before then.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Gove was challenged on whether there is “any circumstance” in which Mr Johnson would approve a referendum before a May 2024 election.