Scottish Daily Mail


It ain’t half hot, Ma’am! George swelters on Centre Court

- By Michael Blackley Scottish Political Editor

CANDIDATES vying to become the next Prime Minister have ruled out allowing another independen­ce referendum for at least ten years.

sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt both said yesterday they would not grant another divisive vote within the next decade should they get the keys to No10.

Penny Mordaunt also vowed that she will not let the sNP ‘distract and divide us all over again’. Tom Tugendhat said the Nationalis­ts cannot be allowed to ‘keep asking the same question hoping for a different answer’.

The comments indicate the Union’s future will be a key issue in the leadership contest.

They also appear to end Nicola sturgeon’s hopes that the departure of Boris Johnson – who formally rejected the request for a section 30 order to hold a referendum – will boost the prospects of another vote being granted.

asked yesterday if he would allow one, former Health secretary and Foreign

Secretary Mr Hunt: said: ‘Not in the next ten years.’

Replying to the same question, Mr Javid, who was the first of the Cabinet to resign last week when he quit as Health Secretary, said: ‘The last one was for a generation and the generation hasn’t changed, so no. Not forever, but not at least for a decade.’

Former trade minister Miss Mordaunt, who has secured significan­t support from sections of the Scottish Tories, said: ‘I won’t play Nicola Sturgeon’s games by talking about Indyref 2.

‘Another divisive referendum is the wrong priority. It’s the last thing Scotland needs.

‘We cannot allow the SNP to distract and divide us all over again. Now is the time to unite across our United Kingdom and focus on tackling the cost of living crisis, boosting economic growth, creating jobs and supporting businesses.’

In a BBC interview with the The Sunday Show, Mr Tugendhat, who described himself as a ‘passionate Unionist’, said: ‘What we are saying simply is that you can’t keep on asking the same question hoping for a different answer.’

On the SNP’s latest push for a referendum, he said: ‘The polls aren’t pointing in the direction the SNP wish.

‘They are failing in education, failing in healthcare and now they are trying to distract by talking about separation again. I’m afraid this is a cheap political play.’

When pressed further on what circumstan­ces would lead to him devolving powers to hold a referendum, he refused to contemplat­e ‘hypothetic­als in the future’.

The latest developmen­ts come after the Mail revealed at the weekend Mr Tugendhat had won the support of Scottish Conservati­ve chief whip Stephen Kerr, who said the leadership contest can be a ‘big blue reset button’ on relations within the party.

Yesterday, Miss Mordaunt was given a boost when Scottish businessma­n Robert Kilgour, a prominent Tory donor, backed her campaign.

He said: ‘In an increasing­ly crowded field, Penny Mordaunt is the real deal, the stand-out candidate to lead and unite the Conservati­ve Party and serve as Prime Minister with strength, integrity and a capacity to move the country past the many challenges it currently faces.

‘As a Scottish Conservati­ve I can see that she clearly “gets” the Union and understand­s the value of maintainin­g a strong United Kingdom that pulls together in the face of shared challenges. She understand­s that we’re stronger as a country when our nations pull together and that’s a huge reassuranc­e to the party in Scotland.

‘As a former reservist and Defence Secretary, Penny also has what it takes to steer Britain through the numerous security challenges out there, not least with the conflict in Ukraine. She understand­s that Scotland’s future in the UK is absolutely vital to our shared defence in uncertain times.

‘And as a businessma­n I’ve also been very impressed with her track record hammering out post-Brexit trade deals with some of the world’s biggest economies.

‘She has a can-do attitude and capacity to deliver that we clearly need to see more of if we’re to grow the economy post pandemic and tackle the current cost of living crisis.’

Prominent Scottish Tory MP John Lamont said: ‘Penny Mordaunt is the best candidate to unite the party, stand up to the SNP and stop Nicola Sturgeon’s push for another referendum.

‘We need to bring our whole country together and stop the SNP’s never-ending push to tear us apart.’

Following the comments about another referendum, SNP deputy leader Keith Brown told the BBC that one of the fundamenta­l tests of whether the Scottish Government will have better relations with the next Prime Minister than it did with Mr Johnson is ‘whether they are willing to recognise the will of the Scottish people’ and agree a referendum.

Mr Brown said: ‘Given the runners and riders that we know about, they’re all people that defended Boris Johnson, they’re all people who were complicit in the lies and depravity of his administra­tion, so I don’t hold out a great deal of hope.’

He claimed the case for a referendum is ‘unanswerab­le’ because ‘the people of Scotland voted for that’ and have to ‘get out of this suffocatio­n’.

Among those to fail to respond to requests to clarify his position on an independen­ce referendum yesterday was the former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, another of the frontrunne­rs for the leadership contest.

‘Not for at least a decade’

It is early days in the Conservati­ve leadership race but already four candidates have made encouragin­g comments about the Union. Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid have both ruled out another independen­ce referendum for a decade.

Meanwhile, Penny Mordaunt said Indyref 2 was ‘the last thing that Scotland needs’ and tom tugendhat said the SNP cannot keep asking the question until it gets an answer it likes.

this question was settled conclusive­ly in 2014. Scotland rejected secession and voted to endorse the Union. that should be the end of the matter.

However, the interventi­ons suggest the upand-coming generation of tories understand­s the threat posed to the Union by Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘neverendum’ strategy.

Make no mistake, despite all the other challenges facing the Government, from the cost-of-living crisis to the war in Ukraine, there is no priority higher than securing the Union. Scottish independen­ce is not an academic debate about governance and constituti­onal arrangemen­ts. It is about the break-up of the United Kingdom, the end of the British state.

Nothing would cause more political, social and economic upheaval. Nothing would be more pleasing to Vladimir Putin and all the other enemies of the West. If Scotland goes, what remains of the UK will be paralysed for years to come. Negotiatin­g then executing the separation of Scotland from England. Building a new base for trident and possibly having to suspend continuous-at-sea deterrence in the meantime. Fresh border and trade talks with Brussels if Scotland gets in the EU. the fallout from Brexit would pale by comparison.

Boris Johnson consistent­ly said No to another referendum. His would-be successors should learn from his example but they will have to do more. As Nicola Sturgeon’s rebel referendum shows, saying No is no longer enough.

 ?? ?? Mum knows best: Kate keeps George looking smart during the men’s singles final at Wimbledon yesterday
Mum knows best: Kate keeps George looking smart during the men’s singles final at Wimbledon yesterday

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