Indyref2 can take place if support sustained at 60%, says Scottish secretary
A second referendum on Scottish independence could take place if 60 per cent of Scots supported a fresh vote, the Scottish secretary has said.
Alister Jack told Politico that he would “acknowledge that there was a desire” for another referendum if consistent polling indicated six in ten Scots wanted one.
The comments signal a potential softening of the UK Government’s stance as Jack has previously said a fresh vote should not take place for 25 years.
It follows Michael Gove saying the government would not stand in the way of indyref2 if it was the “settled will” of the people.
Jack said: “If you consistently saw 60 per cent of the population wanting a referendum – not wanting independence but wanting a referendum – and that was sustained over a reasonably long period, then I would acknowledge that there was a desire for a referendum. Anyone can see that.”
However, he added he did not think there was sufficient support yet, particularly as the UK is still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
He added: “I think I’m broadly where the public are, which is that now is not the time to be having a referendum. We’ve had one, we’ve made our decision, let’s get on and rebuild the economy and rebuild people’s lives.”
Nicola Sturgeon has previously said that, given the pro-independence majority elected to the Scottish Parliament in May, indyref2 was now a “matter of when, not if”.
And in the recent agreement between the SNP and Greens, the parties said they would push for a referendum “within the first half of the five-year parliamentary session”, assuming the COVID crisis had passed.
This would mean holding a vote by the end of 2023.
The UK Government granted a Section 30 order ahead of the 2014 referendum which temporarily gave the Scottish Parliament the powers to hold such a referendum.
The First Minister has previously said her preference would be to obtain another Section 30, but the Scottish Government is expected to legislate for a referendum even if the request is refused.
This is likely to result in a court battle between the Scottish and UK governments.