Scottish independence: 'It's no for a generation' that could last 40 years, says Alister Jack

Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack has said the UK Government will continue to refuse permission for a second independence referendum for up to 25 or 40 years regardless of who wins the Holyrood elections next year.

Scottish Independence will be blocked "for a generation", Alister Jack has said
Scottish Independence will be blocked "for a generation", Alister Jack has said

Mr Jack, speaking in an interview with BBC Scotland, said it was “very clear” a generation had not passed, referring to the use of the phrase “once in a generation” employed by the SNP during the 2014 independence referendum campaign.

Asked how long a generation would be, the MP for Dumfries and Galloway said: "It’s no for a generation. Is it 25 years or 40 years? You tell me, but it is certainly not six years nor ten."

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His comments follow a Survation poll yesterday that indicated support for independence was holding steady at 54 per cent, with 46 per cent support for No.

The poll also showed the SNP is on track for a majority at the Scottish Parliament elections.

Speaking this morning on Good Morning Scotland, he added that Scotland did not need another “divisive” referendum and said the country needed to focus on economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Jack said: “We need to be focusing on our economic recovery from a global pandemic, not worrying about constitutional issues, which, when most people are polled, actually are six or seven on their list of priorities.

"We had a referendum, it was 'once in a generation', and as a democrat I respect the outcome of referendums.”

Responding to the comment, the First Minister labelled them “rubbish”.

Nicola Sturgeon said: “As we’re seeing across the Atlantic just now, politicians who rage against democracy don’t prevail. Let’s not dignify this rubbish. Instead let’s keep making and winning the case for independence. Power doesn’t belong to politicians - it belongs to the people”

Leader of the SNP in Westminster Ian Blackford categorised Mr Jack as “tin-eared” and said the minister would change his mind after the Scottish Parliament elections next year.

He said: “Increasingly people in Scotland are saying that they want to have that independence referendum, and support for independence in every poll - I think we’ve had 12 polls now over the course of the last few months have shown a majority for that.

"We can’t have a tin-eared secretary of state or Westminster government.

"The government in London may be saying something today, but they’ll be saying something very different after the election next year.

"We will have that referendum. Alister Jack is not going to stop the people of Scotland having their say."

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said it was the SNP, not the Scottish Conservatives, who were attempting to divide the country.

She said: "Nicola Sturgeon should take a long look in the mirror.

"She is the one who has never accepted the democratic decision of the Scottish people and relentlessly campaigns to divide us once again.

"It's time that she listened to the people of Scotland who are very clear they don't want a second divisive referendum any time soon, and want the government to focus on what really matters - jobs, the NHS and schools."

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