UK Government ministers are “clearly rattled” about the prospect of a possible second independence referendum, the SNP has claimed, after Theresa May’s cabinet meeting focused on the importance of the Union.
A Downing Street spokesman revealed the bulk of Tuesday morning’s discussions had centred on the issue.
The talks come at a time of continued speculation that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon may seek to hold a fresh ballot on Scotland’s place in the UK in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.
While the UK as a whole voted to leave the European Union (EU) in 2016, almost two-thirds (62%) of voters north of the border backed Remain.
Since then, the Scottish Government has put forward “compromise proposals” aimed at keeping the country in the European single market, even if the rest of the UK quits the trading bloc.
There has been no formal response from the UK Government to this suggestion.
The Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister said that the government recognises how much we all value the Union and how it has been an incredibly successful partnership, and we must continue to point that out.
“She added that everyone round the table wants the union to work and stay together.
“She invited the Minister for the Cabinet Office to lead a discussion on the importance of continuing to engage with and listen to the devolved administrations.
“He pointed out it was the most successful political union of countries that has been seen and said it is critical that we continue to maintain, strengthen and nurture a 300-plus-year-old relationship.
“Members of the cabinet also spoke out in support of the Union, particularly in relation to the work that their departments carry out.
“There was a consensus on the importance of maintaining a level of engagement and work to strengthen and enhance the union going forward.”
The spokesman described the discussion as “a recognition that as we go into the phase of entering negotiations to exit the EU, there is a recognition that we want to get the best deal for all parts of the UK”.
An SNP spokeswoman said: “This shows the Tories are clearly rattled at how their actions are being seen by people across Scotland - and they have good reason to be.
“They talk about listening seriously to Scotland but their actions tell a completely different story - underlined by the fact the UK cabinet failed to discuss the Scottish Government’s compromise proposals on Europe.
“The Tories now seem to think they can do what they want to Scotland and people will simply accept it.
“They may discover just how wrong they are about that if they continue trying to drag Scotland out of Europe against its democratic will and in their reckless pursuit of a hard Brexit, which threatens to take Scotland and the rest of the UK off an economic cliff-edge, with catastrophic consequences for jobs and livelihoods.”