Scotland politics

Indyref should not happen says David Mundell

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Media captionDavid Mundell said he dreaded an independence referendum but he was not feart

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has said a second independence referendum was possible but it should not happen.

The Tory MP said he "dreaded" a second ballot because it would be "seriously unpleasant" but he was confident the vote would support staying in the UK.

Earlier this week, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the SNP should "forget" about a second referendum.

He would not be drawn on reports he had suggested the UK government would block a vote.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said another independence referendum was increasingly likely in the wake of the Brexit vote but she would need the UK government's permission in order to hold a second legally binding vote.

In an interview on BBC Scotland's Sunday Politics, Mr Mundell was asked several times if the UK government would block Scottish government plans for a second referendum

He said there was "not a proposal on the table" so it was not an issue at the moment.

Mr Mundell, Scotland's only Tory MP, said he did not want to get into a discussion about "process" but for a second independence referendum to happen there would need to be a similar deal to the Edinburgh agreement which allowed the 2014 vote.

This would need the UK government and the Scottish government to reach agreement on the terms of the vote.

Mr Mundell said: "Of course there could be another referendum, that is a process issue.

"But the people of Scotland are very clear that they don't want one and that's what we need to continue to debate about."

Single market

He added: "I'm not feart of another referendum, as Nicola Sturgeon likes to suggest, because I think it is pretty clear the outcome would be the same.

"But I dread it because I think it would be a divisive and seriously unpleasant event which would set Scot against Scot and I don't think people want to see that."

Mr Mundell said: "What people want to see is the two governments working together to get the best deal for Scotland and the rest of the UK as we leave the European Union."

The Scottish secretary also said it was not impossible for Scotland to remain part of the European Single Market via the European Free Trade Agreement while remaining in the UK, which is the first minister's wish.

Mr Mundell said he did not see the need for a "differentiated" agreement for Scotland but his mind was "open".

The Scottish government's minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe, Michael Russell, said: "David Mundell's forced admission that it is possible for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom and the European single market is a significant concession from the Tories.

"The people of Scotland did not vote for Brexit and David Mundell is alone as the only one of the nation's 59 MPs who backed the UK government by voting to trigger Article 50 - despite the grave consequences.

"Members of the Scottish Parliament will have a vote on the UK Government's Bill to fire the starting gun on Article 50 this Tuesday. It is essential that the Scottish Parliament's views are heard prior to the end of the Committee Stage of the Article 50 Bill in the House of Commons."

Mr Russell added: "The Scottish government remains intent on pursuing all possible options to maintain Scotland's place in the European single market and - given that a material constitutional change has occurred since 2014 - the option of independence must remain on the table.

"David Mundell twisted and turned when repeatedly asked if he would block an independence referendum but the Tory leadership must realise that it is the people of Scotland, not them, who have the right to choose.

"Without that option, Scotland would have to accept whatever decisions the UK government makes - no matter how reckless and damaging they are to Scotland's interests."

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