Not possible for election to be de facto referendum on Scots independence – Jack
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
It is not possible for the next general election to be a de facto referendum on Scottish independence, the Scottish Secretary has said.
Alister Jack said “general elections aren’t for that purpose” when asked what would happen if the SNP gained more than 50% of the vote at the next election.
Nicola Sturgeon has asked Supreme Court judges to rule if Holyrood can hold a referendum without the backing of Westminster.
However if her legal bid fails, she has said the SNP will fight the next general election as a “de facto referendum” on the single issue of whether Scotland should be an independent country.
While speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Mr Jack was asked if the UK Government would have to authorise a second independence referendum if the SNP took most of the vote in Scottish seats.
He said: “General elections aren’t for that purpose.
“General elections are about a myriad of issues, as we know, and Nicola Sturgeon can no more put in her manifesto that she’s going to remove Trident from the Clyde which is entirely reserved – which she’s done in the past but she’s never removed Trident from the Clyde – than she can put in her manifesto she’s going to break up the United Kingdom.
“That isn’t how general elections work and if the Supreme Court has already said that’s out of scope I think people will draw their own conclusions.”
The Scottish Secretary was also asked about the Scottish Government’s legal “reference” of its own independence referendum legislation to the Supreme Court.
In her submission to the court, the Scottish Government’s Lord Advocate asked judges to rule on whether their proposed Bill was within the Scottish Parliament’s powers.
My Advocate General for Scotland, the current one and the previous one, Lord Keen, were always very clear to me that the constitution was wholly reserved – there's an emphasis on the word wholly there - to the Parliament in Westminster
The Lord Advocate said she “does not have the necessary degree of confidence” on the issue of the Bill’s competence.
Commenting on this, Mr Jack said: “I’m not surprised by that, because the Scotland Act is crystal clear.
“My Advocate General for Scotland, the current one and the previous one, Lord Keen, were always very clear to me that the constitution was wholly reserved – there’s an emphasis on the word wholly there – to the Parliament in Westminster.
“So it doesn’t come as any great surprise to me that the Lord Advocate’s taken that position.”