Andrea Leadsom says she could allow second Scottish independence referendum if she becomes PM
Andrea Leadsom has opened the door to a second referendum on Scottish independence after revealing it would be "up for negotiation" if she becomes Prime Minister.
The Tory leadership contender said "never say never" when asked whether she would give the green light to indyref2.
Ms Leadsom's comments are in stark contrast to her rivals for the top job, most of whom have said they would not give Holyrood the legal power to hold another poll on breaking up the United Kingdom.
Speaking at a Westminster lunch, the former Commons leader said she did not believe the time was right for a fresh vote.
But she also said she would respect a Scottish Parliament vote calling for the right to stage one.
"I think the Scottish nationalists should actually be spending their time sorting out some of the challenges that there are in Scotland around healthcare, infrastructure, broadband rollout and so on.
“So I think it would be very helpful if they would stop that complete focus on independence at the expense of everything else.
“But in reality all of these things would be up for negotiation. I do believe in sovereignty, I do not believe that Scotland should have another independence referendum right now, I don’t think most people in Scotland would want that to happen.
“But I would never say never.”
She added: "The reason I say never say never is because I do not think there should be another independence referendum in Scotland, but on the other hand I'm a big believer in devolution.
"I'm not going to stand here and utterly rule it out because I think that's disrespectful."
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she believes there should be another referendum by the end of next year.
But Tory leadership hopefuls Sajid Javid, Matt Hancock and Rory Stewart have all said they would refuse to pass a so-called "Section 30 order" giving the Scottish Parliament the power to hold a legal vote on separation.