No independence referendum before 2024, says Michael Gove
Michael Gove has said he “can’t see” another referendum on Scottish independence happening before the next general election in 2024.
In an interview with The Telegraph, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (whose remit includes devolution and the Union) said it would be “reckless” to hold a fresh vote while the country was recovering from the COVID pandemic.
And asked whether there was any circumstance in which Prime Minister Boris Johnson might agree to hold one before 2024, Gove said: “I don't think so.”
He continued: “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.”
The Scottish Government has indicated it will move to legislate for indyref2 shortly despite Downing Street insisting it would not grant the Section 30 order required to give the Scottish Parliament the power to hold one.
Speaking after the recent Holyrood election which saw the SNP return to power for a fourth term, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said another vote was “a matter of when – not if”.
This has led to speculation the issue could end up in the courts.
But Gove told The Telegraph he was “not thinking about taking anyone to court,” adding: “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.”
He also said the devolution of further powers to the Scottish Parliament was “not a priority” though he was “open-minded about ideas for constitutional reform in the future”.