Jack hints at indyref2 if support reaches 60%
Support for independence has weakened recently (pic: Terry Murden)
Another referendum on independence could be granted if support is consistently at 60%, the Scottish Secretary has said.
Alister Jack made the comments on a news website which have sparked speculation of a softening of the Tories’ position on independence.
Speaking to the Politico website, the Scottish Secretary said: “If you consistently saw 60% of the population wanting a referendum — not wanting independence but wanting a referendum — and that was sustained over a reasonably long period, then I would acknowledge that there was a desire for a referendum.”
However, he made it clear that he is not advocating another vote.
“That’s not where we are and it’s not how I perceive things to be,” he said. “I think I’m broadly where the public are, which is that now is not the time to be having a referendum. We’ve had one, we’ve made our decision, let’s get on and rebuild the economy and rebuild people’s lives.”
Alister Jack: ‘it’s not where we are at’
Twenty consecutive opinion polls between summer 2020 and spring 2021 indicated a lead for the “Yes” side, but more recent polls have shown a small lead in favour of Scotland remaining in the UK.
Other UK Cabinet members and Scottish Conservatives have ruled out a referendum. Boris Johnson, a staunch defender of the union, has consistently rejected the SNP’s calls to allow another vote on the constitutional question.
The Prime Minister has said it is not the time for another referendum, and instead there should be a focus on recovery from the pandemic.
However, there has been some equivocation within the top echelons of the Tory party. Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said earlier in the summer that another vote could take place if there was a “settled will.”
The latest comments from Mr Jack come ahead of a meeting of the Scottish Green Party on Saturday which is expected to rubber-stamp a co-operation deal with the SNP Government.
It will allow the Greens to take two junior ministerial seats in a move that will strengthen the SNP’s support for a referendum.
Ms Sturgeon hopes to hold a vote by the end of 2023.