The UK Government sees no demand for a second referendum on Scottish independence and will not grant Holyrood the Section 30 order required to make any vote legally binding, a senior minister said today.
UK Cabinet Office minister David Lidington reiterated that Theresa May would not acquiesce with Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to hold an IndyRef2 before the next Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2021.
The First Minister said yesterday that new legislation would be brought forward at Holyrood by the end of the year which would provide the framework for a second referendum.
But any prospect of the UK Government repeating the granting of a Section 30 order, which would allow Scottish ministers to hold a legally binding vote, was ruled out by Mr Lidington on a visit to Glasgow today.
“We don’t see any evidence that there is a demand from the people of Scotland to review the decision they took in 2014,” he said. “That referendum was said at the time to settle matters for a generation.
“We don’t see that a Section 30 order is called for. I don’t see how it would help put right problems with Scottish schools and hospitals.
“Devolution in Scotland has given many additional powers to the Scottish Parliament and some of those powers have not even be used. So I think there is plenty more that can be done in terms of the Scottish Government using the powers that are already there.”
Asked if he would rule out granting a Section 30 order before 2021, the minister said: “We have made it very clear we don’t think that is justified.”
The First Minister yesterday indicated the Scottish Government would hold off requesting a Section 30 order. While Mrs May’s administration has ruled out granting one, she is widely expected to stand down as prime minister in the coming months if a Brexit deal can be secured.
Mr Lidington refused to speculate on whether a new Tory Government would be more likely to grant the order.
The minister’s remarks were seized on by the SNP, with the party’s Westminster leader describing them as an “arrogant diktat”.
Ian Blackford said: “Scotland’s future cannot and will not be decided by the arrogant diktat of this shambles of a Tory government which has been rejected by Scottish voters at every election and which is soon likely to be out of office.
“Whatever people’s views on independence, a strong majority of people back the Scottish Parliament’s right to determine the nation’s future.
“Overwhelmingly, it is Holyrood – not Westminster – which the people of Scotland believe should have the right to decide this country’s democratic path.
“The Westminster system is broken beyond repair and does not serve Scotland’s interests – something now conceded at senior levels in the Scottish Tory ranks.
“But instead of responding positively to the First Minister’s call for consensus, all the signs are that the Tories will retreat into their own bunker, refusing to even talk.
“That is the sign of a party which is running scared of the verdict of the people – and the sign of a party which will not prevail in its attempt to block a democratic choice.”