It is “a matter of when, not if” Scotland holds another poll on whether to leave the United Kingdom, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has told UK prime minister Boris Johnson.
In a phone call to Mr Johnson following weekend elections that saw the Scottish National party secure a historic fourth term, Ms Sturgeon said the support in the polls for pro-independence candidates meant another referendum was guaranteed to happen.
This was despite UK Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove using his Sunday broadcast interviews to signal that the UK government was not prepared to sanction a follow-up to 2014’s referendum after the Scottish National Party failed to secure a majority at the Scottish parliament elections.
Mr Gove said the weekend’s election result, in which Ms Sturgeon secured a fourth successive term in power for the SNP but fell one seat short of gaining a 65-seat majority in the Edinburgh parliament, indicated that it was “not the case that the people of Scotland are agitating for a referendum”.
He instead urged the SNP to “concentrate on recovery” from the coronavirus pandemic.
But party leader Ms Sturgeon, in a discussion with the prime minister on Sunday, told him that the pro-independence outcome of the elections, with the Scottish Green Party also standing on a ticket of breaking from the rest of the UK, meant a second referendum had become inevitable.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson finished his call with the SNP leader by “emphasising the importance of focusing on COVID-19 recovery at this time”, as No 10 looks to kick talk of a referendum into the long grass.