Scotland politics

Mundell: No indyref2 before 2021 Holyrood elections

David Mundell Image copyright David Mundell
Image caption David Mundell said it was up to Nicola Sturgeon to take the referendum debate "off the table"

Scottish Secretary David Mundell can see "no circumstances" under which an independence referendum could be held before the Holyrood elections in 2021.

Mr Mundell said it would be "unfair on the people of Scotland" to have another vote before a Brexit deal was done.

He said: "I couldn't be any clearer. People want it off the table."

He was speaking after SNP MP Tommy Sheppard urged Nicola Sturgeon to temporarily "park" the timetable for a second independence referendum.

Mr Sheppard told the Sunday Herald newspaper: "Amidst the current chaos in Westminster it seems certain that a hard Brexit is now off the table.

"The possibility of bespoke solutions for nations and regions is growing."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Tommy Sheppard said a referendum should remain an option but the timetable should be changed

He added: "It follows, therefore, that it is now an option to wait until the Brexit negotiations conclude before forming a view on whether the extent of change justifies a second independence referendum as a result.

"This would mean that whilst a second referendum remains an option, the timetable gets parked."

On Saturday, former SNP justice secretary Kenny MacAskill also said the SNP should "abandon" its current push for a further independence referendum.

Ms Sturgeon has consistently said a referendum could be held either towards the end of next year or the spring of the following year.

'Clear message'

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland programme, Mr Mundell said: "It would be against the principles of the previous referendum to go ahead with an independence referendum until the Brexit process is played out. That remains the position.

"The people of Scotland sent Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP a very, very clear message in last week's general election - with the cataclysmic performance of the SNP compared to the 2015 general election. They want that threat of an independence referendum taken off the table.

"Nicola Sturgeon should not be in denial about that. She should wake up, smell the coffee and be absolutely clear with the people of Scotland, as now members of her own party are indicating, and take that threat off the table.

"I don't see any circumstances in which there is going to be an independence referendum before the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections."

Image caption John Swinney said the SNP's position on when a referendum could go ahead remained the same

Mr Mundell said the onus was on Ms Sturgeon to rule out an impeding referendum to ensure Scotland and the UK get the "best possible" Brexit deal.

He said: "She is the person who put the issue on the table three hours after the Brexit result was declared.

"She is the person who had the grand event at Bute House declaring that she was going to have another referendum.

"She is the person who had the vanity photograph taken of herself signing a letter to the prime minister demanding a referendum.

"It's quite simple - she takes it off the table, we stop speaking about it, everybody gets on with what is the really important job now for Scotland of getting the best possible deal for Scotland and the rest of the UK in the Brexit negotiations."

'Barnett consequentials'

Scottish Labour election campaign manager James Kelly said calls for Ms Sturgeon to ditch plans for a second referendum were now "deafening".

The SNP's deputy leader John Swinney told the BBC programme it was always the party's proposal to only consider a referendum after Brexit negotiations.

He said: "The prime minister has told us it's [the government] two years away from the triggering of Article 50 and that's been the clear commitment given by the UK government and we set our proposals on the basis of that commitment."

Ms Sturgeon has conceded the issue of a second independence referendum was a factor after her party lost 21 of its 56 Westminster seats in the general election, and vowed to "reflect on the result".

She said she would "carefully consider what is best for all of Scotland" and not just what is best for her party.

Ms Sturgeon has also called for all parties and nations to be included in the Brexit process.

The SNP leader said she would use her leverage as Scotland's largest party to call for the UK to remain in the single market and customs union

On the BBC programme Mr Mundell also insisted any extra funding given to Northern Ireland as part of a deal between the Conservatives and the DUP should adhere to Barnett formula rules.

That would mean any wealth being distributed across the UK.

He said: "I certainly won't support funding which is deliberately sought to subvert the Barnett rules.

"We have clear rules about funding of different parts of the United Kingdom. If the funding falls within Barnett consequentials, it should come to Scotland."

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