Scotland politics

No need for another Scottish independence referendum, Cameron says

David Cameron Image copyright Reuters

David Cameron has said there is "no need" for another Scottish independence referendum and one will not take place while he is prime minister.

Mr Cameron said a "decisive" referendum had been held in September.

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond has said he believes a second vote is "inevitable" and that the "timing" is up to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Ms Sturgeon said the SNP had not yet decided if a referendum would appear in its 2016 Holyrood election manifesto.

On his tour of South East Asia, Mr Cameron said there would not be another vote in this parliament, which will run until 2020.

The prime minister indicated that any decision by the Scottish government to unilaterally decide to hold a referendum would not be legitimate.

Asked if a new referendum would have legitimacy, he replied: "A referendum would have to be legal, fair and properly constituted. And that's what we had and it was decisive and I don't see the need for another one."

'Ultimate decision'

On whether the referendum will feature in her party's manifesto, Ms Sturgeon said it would be her "ultimate decision", with party backing, but it would be made based on the country's "best interests".

Speaking on a visit to China, she said: "There can't be a referendum, and there certainly can't be independence for Scotland, unless a majority of people in Scotland clearly want that.

"It will be my ultimate decision, in line with the democratic decision-making processes of the SNP, to determine whether or not there is a commitment to a second referendum in the SNP manifesto for the Scottish election.

"And in due course we will take that decision and take that decision based on what we consider to be in the best interests of the country."

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon says she will decide whether to include a second referendum in the SNP's election manifesto

The first minister said she believed "one day" there would be another independence referendum, but that it required a change in circumstances from last year's vote.

She added: "But whether it's the next Scottish election or a subsequent Scottish election - it's the decision of the SNP whether or not to include it in a manifesto, but it is the decision of the Scottish people whether to vote for that manifesto."

David Mundell, the Scottish secretary in the UK government, earlier said there were no contingency plans for a further referendum after next year's Holyrood elections - after being asked about any in parliamentary questions by an SNP MP.

Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said: "Nicola Sturgeon promised people in Scotland that the referendum was a once in a lifetime event, yet today she can't even rule out another vote being in the SNP's manifesto next year."

On Sunday, Alex Salmond said a second referendum was inevitable with the issue "a question of timing".

A spokeswoman for Ms Sturgeon said there was "no difference of opinion" between the first minister and Mr Salmond.

Scottish voters rejected independence by 55% to 45% in last September's referendum.

After the SNP won 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland in May's general election, Ms Sturgeon stressed there was "no second Scottish independence referendum on the immediate horizon".

However, with some opinion polls pointing to the possibility of an SNP landslide in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections there has been speculation a second vote could be on the cards.

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Media captionMr Salmond told Andrew Marr a second referendum was "inevitable"

Margaret Ferrier, the MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, submitted two written questions on the issue to the Scottish secretary.

She asked "what contingency plans his department has prepared for the possibility of a further referendum on Scottish independence being the policy of the Scottish government after the Scottish Parliament election in 2016".

Mr Mundell said he was "disappointed" by the questions in light of previous statements made by both Ms Sturgeon and her predecessor Mr Salmond that the referendum was a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity.

'No favours'

In response, Mr Mundell said: "My department has not prepared contingency plans for the possibility of a further referendum being the policy of the Scottish government after the Scottish Parliament election in 2016."

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland radio programme, the Tory MP said he did not accept that circumstances had changed since the referendum.

He accused the SNP of trying to find "an excuse" to have another vote.

He said: "I think Nicola Sturgeon needs to be much clearer. Is it the SNP policy to have a second referendum or not?

"It is clear from what Alex Salmond is saying that this isn't about the Smith Commission. For Alex Salmond the Smith Commission isn't good enough, it is independence or nothing and that's what is underlying the push for the second referendum."

Image copyright PA

The Smith Commission was set up after the independence referendum last year to consider further powers for the Scottish Parliament.

The Scotland Bill, currently making its way through parliament at Westminster, is taking forward its recommendations.

Shadow Scottish Secretary Mr Murray said: "People will rightly be worried that Nicola Sturgeon isn't keeping the promise she made to Scots before the referendum.

"We've gone from the people will decide, to the SNP will decide, to Nicola Sturgeon will decide.

"There are so many big issues in Scotland that need urgent attention - from the mess in our police service to the GP crisis.

"The full focus of everybody in Scottish politics should be on sorting out the problems in our public services. We can't put the country on pause for another two years again."

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: "It is barely 10 months since we had the referendum vote. It was a comprehensive vote and that should have settled the issue.

"We were assured that last September's vote was "once in a generation vote". In fact, Nicola Sturgeon went further when she said it was a "once in a lifetime vote". Now all we hear from the SNP is about how soon they can justify a re-run.

"This just shows contempt for the clearly expressed view of the Scottish people. The SNP need to stop obsessing about independence , and start addressing the real problems in Scotland which have been building up on their watch."

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