Jeremy Hunt: I won't grant second independence referendum even if SNP win Holyrood majority

Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt has said he would not grant a second referendum on Scottish independence - even if the SNP wins a majority at Holyrood in the 2021 election.

The Foreign Secretary addressed a private meeting of Tory members in Perth this afternoon and later spoke to journalists ahead of a hustings in the city later tonight.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she will ask the new Tory leader for authority to hold a second referendum on independence, as control over the constitution in the UK reserved to Westminster. This has so far been ruled out by both Mr Hunt and his leadership rival Boris Johnson.

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Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson has said that if the SNP wins a majority at Holyrood in two years on a platform to stage a second referendum it should happen.

Mr Hunt today pledged that he will work with the Scottish Government on issues like immigration to make progress inthe country.

But asked directly about this prospect today, Mr Hunt appeared to rule even this out.

"I've made it very clear I'm a unionist with every fibre in my being so if there is another request for another referendum, the answer will be a polite no," he said.

"I'm a democrat and I remember that in that independence referendum, the SNP very clearly said that this would settle the outcome for a generation and I think they need to be true to what they promised the Scottish electorate, just as we are true to what we promised the British electorate in delivering Brexit."

Mr Hunt today pledged that he will work with the Scottish Government on issues like immigration to make progress in the country.

"I will engage fully, responsibly and generously with Nicola Sturgeon on everything that helps Scotland move forward," Mr Hunt said.

"But I will not engage with her on the issue of independence which will take Scotland backwards.

"And I will certainly not engage with her on the issue of a second independence referendum which is not what the people of Scotland want.

He added: "If she asks for a second independence referendum I will decline in the most British and polite way. But it will be a no."

The Foreign Secretary hinted he did not underestimate the threats to the UK after Theresa May warned yesterday in Scotland her successor must seek to protect it.

He added: "I do think we need to take the threats to the union very seriously - I think it's the most precious thing about our country."