Former PM's intervention

Sir John Major proposes two-stage indyref ballot

Sir John Major

Sir John Major offers alternative on independence referendum (pic: Terry Murden)

Former prime minister Sir John Major has called for Scotland’s independence debate to be settled by holding two votes.

Sir John, who also challenged Boris Johnson’s policy on Brexit, said a way through the arguments over the constitution had to be found that may settle the issue.

“The Westminster Government could agree for an independence referendum to take place, on the basis of two referenda.

“The first to vote upon the principle of negotiations, and the second upon the outcome of them,” he said.

Scottish nationalists described Sir John’s comments as a “wake-up call” for Mr Johnson who has refused to countenance independence or a referendum.

In a speech delivered at the Middle Temple’s 2020 Lecture Series, Sir John said: “In law, the Scots require the approval of the Westminster Government before they can legally hold a new independence referendum.

“But refusing one might help the separatist case, by adding to the list of grievances the Scottish National Party exploit with such skill.

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“The choice for the UK Government is either to agree the referendum can take place – or to refuse to permit it.

“Both options come with great risk. But the lessons of Brexit may offer a way ahead.

“The Westminster Government could agree for an independence referendum to take place, on the basis of two referenda.

“The first to vote upon the principle of negotiations, and the second upon the outcome of them.

“The purpose of the second referendum would be that Scottish electors would know what they were voting for, and be able to compare it to what they now have.

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