Independence: Conservative minister declares new referendum “incumbent on Scottish people”

A Tory minister said holding a new independence referendum would be ‘up to the Scottish people’ – despite the PM having indicated he would block it.

In a new interview with The Sun, Boris Johnson said the Scottish government seeking an order under Article 30, allowing a referendum to be held, would be “completely inappropriate, irrelevant, unwarranted and unnecessary”.

He also appeared to rule out a referendum “at any time for the foreseeable future”. Senior Conservatives have long insisted that the 2014 vote was unique. Asked what a generation means in January, Johnson told Andrew Marr that the gap between the 1975 European referendum and 2016 was “good.”

READ MORE: Boris Johnson says Scottish independence vote is ‘unwarranted and irrelevant’

However, this morning the UK Business Secretary abandoned that official UK government line.

Asked about Johnson’s latest criticism on Sky News today, Kwasi Kwarteng said: “I have always thought that the issue of Scottish independence is about the Scottish people.

“I remember in 2014, I think, they said the referendum would settle the issue for 25 years, for a generation.

“And I’m surprised how often it comes back, but it’s up to the Scottish people to decide when and if they want a referendum.”

The SNP has said it plans to hold a new referendum if the party wins a majority in the May elections. If the UK government refuses to approve a Section 30 ordinance, an advisory vote would be held.

This has been described by the Scottish Conservatives as an “illegal” referendum.

The SNP is on track to secure a majority in May, according to the latest polls, but its support and backing for independence appear to have waned in recent weeks.

Kirsten Oswald, SNP deputy chief at Westminster, said: “Mr Kwarteng is absolutely right that the people of Scotland – and not Boris Johnson – have the right to decide their own future.

“The UK government seems to realize that its undemocratic stance of denying the Scots this right is totally untenable. ”

She added: “The question for the May election will be: Who has the right to decide what kind of country we should be after the pandemic – the people of Scotland or Boris Johnson?