In an interview, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s focus was instead on leading the recovery from the Covid pandemic
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In an interview the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said that the Prime Minister’s focus was instead on recovery from the Covid pandemic.
The SNP fell one seat short of an overall majority in the recent Scottish parliament elections, securing 64 seats, but the final result still left Holyrood with a pro-independence majority.
In her victory speech, Nicola Sturgeon told supporters the result proved a second independence vote was the “will of the country” and said any Westminster politician who stood in the way was “picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people”.
But Boris Johnson, in a letter to Ms Sturgeon, argued the UK was “best served when we work together” and called for a conversation about “our shared challenges” in recovering from the pandemic.
Now senior government figure Mr Gove said ‘I don’t think so’ when asked in an interview with the Daily Telegraph if there was any circumstance in which Mr Johnson would approve another independence referendum before the next general election, currently expected to be in May 2024.
Asked if his position was that “there will be no referendum before the 2024 election”, he responded: “I can’t see it.”
Mr Gove said it would be “at best reckless, at worst folly” to hold a vote while rebuilding the UK after the damage of coronavirus.
He added: “The Prime Minister is completely focused on making sure that for the lifetime of this parliament we increase economic opportunity, we provide people with the chance to make more of their lives, take control of their futures.
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“And that’s quite rightly what the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom’s focus should be.”
At another point in the interview he said: “I think it’s foolish to talk about a referendum now – we’re recovering from Covid”, adding: “It seems to me to be at best reckless, at worst folly to try to move the conversation on to constitutional division when people expect us to be working together in order to deal with these challenges.”
On September 18, 2014, people in Scotland voted in a referendum to remain in the United Kingdom by a 55-45 margin.
But since that defeat, the independence movement has grown with the SNP dominating both Westminster and Holyrood elections.
The UK government said it ‘believes that Scotland is better off in the UK and the UK is better off with Scotland in it.’