Nicola Sturgeon will not be allowed to hold a second Scottish independence referendum before the next general election.
So says Michael Gove, who as chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is overseeing Boris Johnson’s attempts to keep Scotland in the Union. Mr Gove said that it would be “at best reckless, at worst folly” to hold a second referendum while the United Kingdom was recovering from the pandemic.
The first independence referendum took place in 2014, with 55% of Scots voting to stay in the UK and 45% voting to leave.
While few beyond Ms Sturgeon and her colleagues in the Scottish National Party are pushing for a referendum in the immediate future, Mr Gove’s comments bring the two sides closer to a constitutional clash. It is necessary for the UK Prime Minister to sanction any referendum.
Asked whether there was “any circumstance” in which Mr Johnson would approve a second referendum before the next general election in May 2024, Mr Gove replied: “I really don’t think so.”
The SNP won a fourth term in charge of Scotland’s devolved government in May, although it fell short of the majority Ms Sturgeon had hoped would make the argument to hold a speedy referendum possible.