MICHAEL Gove has stated “we’re not going to have a referendum anytime soon” as he insisted the case for the Union has been boosted by the need for cooperation in rebuilding the economy.
The Cabinet office Minister was asked about the likelihood of a re-run of the 2014 independence vote on a visit to Aberdeen.
A Panelbase poll at the weekend showed that support for independence has reached a two-year low, while reports suggest the UK Government is examining whether Scots who live in the rest of the UK could be allowed to vote in another referendum, a tactic Nicola Sturgeon labelled “trying to rig the rules”.
Mr Gove was asked what he believed to be the reason behind the surge in support for the Union.
He said: “I don’t have the psephological gifts to be able to know precisely.
“I think the case for the Union and for people working together has been reinforced by the need for us all to recognise the scale of Covid recovery work ahead of us.”
Mr Gove added: “In the House of Commons months ago, SNP politicians were saying that a string of polls showing support for independence, as they saw it, meant that independence was now the settled will of the Scottish people.
“I thought it’s a bit risky to hang your hat on just opinion polls.
“I think the most important things is not to imagine you know what’s driving polling. The most important thing is to make the arguments you believe in. I believe strongly that across the United Kingdom we are stronger together and better together.”
On a proposed timetable for any second referendum, Mr Gove said “we’re not going to have a referendum anytime soon”.
He added: “Therefore, the most important thing for me is not speculating about the whys and wherefores of a referendum – it’s making sure that we work together, Scottish Government, UK Government and other devolved administrations to deal with the recovery.
“I’m not very good at making predictions. I once wrote a book called ‘Michael Portillo – the future of the right’ and therefore, on that basis, anyone should assume that I’m not a particularly good political clairvoyant.
“For the moment, I’m concentrating on Covid recovery.”
Mr Gove said that during the pandemic, there had been a “realisation” that collaboration between ministers at Holyrood and Westminster had helped the response to Covid.
He added: “I’ve enjoyed good working relationships with ministers like Fergus Ewing and Mike Russell in the past – I’m working with John Swinney now, in order to make sure we can collaborate.
“Of course, we’ll have differences on big constitutional questions. But at the moment, the Scottish Government and the UK Government are united in believing that the single most important thing is recovery from the coronavirus.”