Michael Gove: There is no prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum

Posted On: 
3rd February 2017

The vote to leave the EU has made the prospect of a second referendum on Scottish independence less likely, according to Michael Gove.

Michael Gove addressing the House of Commons

The former Education Secretary, who hails from Aberdeen, said it was "striking" how support for independence had stalled since the EU referendum result.

And he hit out at the SNP for organising a vote in Holyrood over the Brexit process, claiming it was not "grown-up politics".

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Nationalist politicians have repeatedly claimed that the vote to leave the EU has strengthened the case for Scottish independence, although there has been little movement in the opinion polls since 23 June. 

Alex Salmond claimed recently that a second referendum would be "very likely" if Westminster rejected proposals to keep Scotland in the single market.

Asked whether he envisaged another referendum north of the border, Mr Gove told Good Morning Scotland:

"No, one of the most striking things since Britain voted to leave the EU has been a decline in support for a second referendum and opinion polls suggest that support for independence has not risen, indeed, in one or two cases it seems to have fallen, albeit slightly. 

"It’s striking so many people, including the SNP, thought that leaving the EU would precipitate a second referendum. The people of the UK having voted to leave one union that didn’t work, the people of Scotland are not going to vote to leave a union that does work."

Earlier this week Defence Secretary Michael Fallon suggested the Government would not sanction another independence referendum before 2020, telling the SNP to "forget all that stuff and get on with the day job".

Mr Gove declined to endorse that position, saying it was a "matter for negotiation between the Prime Minister and the First Minister". 


He was also dismissive of the idea of the Scottish Parliament expressing its voice on Brexit through a vote.

"I don’t think there’s anything wrong in having a debate and I think it’s important to recognise not just that a significant section of Conservative opinion but actually one third of SNP voters voted to leave the EU, so it’s appropriate that SNP representatives mull, reflect, consider what that means," he said.  

"So a debate, of course, but I think trying to suggest that a vote in the Scottish Parliament is a way of exercising some sort of veto or sending a signal to the UK government, I think that that’s not really grown-up politics."