No Scottish Independence Referendum Before 2024 Election, Says Michael Gove

Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Nicola Sturgeon, launches the party's Election Manifesto in Glasgow on April 15, 2021, during campaigning for the Scottish Parliamentary elections. - Scotland holds elections for its devolved parliament in Edinburgh on May 6 and the SNP hopes to use …
JEFF J MITCHELL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not allow a second referendum for Scottish independence before the 2024 elections, according to Cabinet Minister Michael Gove.

Despite losing ground and failing to maintain their majority in the last elections, the leader of the leftist-separatist Scottish National Party (SNP) Nicola Sturgeon has called for another vote on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom by the end of 2023.

Cabinet Minister and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove shot down any prospects of a Tory government backing such a vote, telling The Telegraph that he “can’t see” Boris Johnson allowing it.

“I think it’s foolish to talk about a referendum now – we’re recovering from Covid,” Gove said.

“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,” he added.

Mr Gove went on to say that there are no plans on coming to any agreement which would grant the devolved Scottish parliament any more localised power, saying: “I think the most important thing is for the Scottish government to use the powers that it currently has and the UK Government to use its powers to work together in all sorts of practical ways.”

In the first referendum in 2014, which was promised to be a “once in a generation” vote by SNP politicians, the Scottish people voted by a margin of  55 per cent to 45 per cent to stay in the UK.

Nicola Sturgeon has argued that through winning 64 seats in the May election — one short of securing a majority in the Scottish parliament — the SNP has secured a mandate for launching another referendum campaign after the Chinese coronavirus crisis has subsided.

In response to Mr Gove’s proclamations, the SNP leader shot back on Wednesday: “Every time we hear that kind of sneering, arrogant condescension from Michael Gove, or whatever UK Government minister it may be, completely refusing to accept Scottish democracy, actually the more they just build support for independence.”

“If we can’t even have a UK Government that respects the choices we make democratically which – in an election just a matter of weeks ago – was an overwhelming victory for the SNP on the manifesto commitment to have the choice of independence, not to force independence on people but to give people the choice at the right moment after we’re out of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Sturgeon said.

“If that can’t even be respected, then the idea that the UK is a partnership of equals just completely disintegrates,” she added.

Should the SNP push ahead with attempting to hold a unilateral referendum without first getting the go-ahead from Prime Minister Johnson, it would likely spark a constitutional crisis that would have to be resolved in the courts as there is no legal precedence for such a dispute.

Michael Gove said that Downing Street would prefer to settle the matter outside of court, saying: “I don’t want to be on the end of writs or anything like that. I want to be on the end of the telephone talking to Nicola… working with them to get a better deal for people in Scotland.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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