Independence referendum concerns Scottish people, Tory minister says

A Conservative government minister has said it is up to the Scottish people whether or not to hold a second independence referendum, although Boris Johnson has said he will block such a move.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK government’s business secretary, strayed into the constitutional minefield while answering questions about the Sturgeon-Salmond feud and Johnson’s comments in the newspaper renewing his opposition to a second vote.

Kwarteng dodged the Salmond controversy, but when asked if he agreed with the Prime Minister’s opinion that another referendum was “irrelevant, unwarranted and unnecessary”, he lost the plot to Downing Street.

The Business Secretary replied: ‘I have always thought that the issue of Scottish independence was something for the Scottish people. “

He added: “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 people of Scotland to decide when and if they want a referendum.”

The shift in the British government’s stance against a new referendum has delighted the SNP.

Kirsten Oswald, SNP deputy chief at Westminster, pounced on the comments which she said undermined Johnson’s firm stance

She 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. “

The power to hold a referendum is granted by the UK government under a so-called Article 30 ordinance which Boris Johnson has said he will refuse to sign, citing the SNP’s statement in 2104 that the referendum was a “once in a generation” event.

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However, the SNP argues that after Brexit the constitutional circumstances have changed and with polls showing a majority for independence, Scots should be questioned again.

Nicola Sturgeon takes the party to the Holyrood election on a second referendum ticket, but even if the SNP wins an anti-election majority in Edinburgh, Johnson still says he will refuse to grant the ballot.