Michael Gove‘s “Trumpian” rejection of rising support for Scottish independence will only boost the cause, according to the SNP. The Cabinet Office minister was peppered with questions from SNP MPs asking him about why opinion polls suggest Scots favour separation ahead of remaining in the union. SNP Cabinet Office spokesman Pete Wishart questioned why independence is the “settled will” of the Scottish people.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Gove replied: “Sadly I fear his reliance on opinion polls is no substitute for his aversion to hard arguments. Why won’t he engage with the facts?”
Mr Gove highlighted Westminster’s support for NHS funding in Scotland and the UK Government-led Covid-19 vaccination programme.
But Mr Wishart added: “Let me try to give him a few reasons and see if he agrees with any of these – the disastrous Brexit Scotland didn’t vote for, the attacks on our democracy, the undermining of our parliament, the Prime Minister, him?
“Maybe they’re some sort of reasons as to why we’re now in the lead. But the main one, and see if he agrees with this, is the way he arrogantly, Trumpian, says no to a majority in a democracy.”
Mr Wishart asked if saying no to independence would drive support for the issue down or up, with Mr Gove noting the Scottish Parliament elections take place next year and he argued voters will ask questions about the “decline in educational achievement” in the nation’s schools under the SNP administration.
Mr Gove replied: “The Scottish Parliament is enjoying more powers now as a result of our departure from the European Union.
“Those powers allow the devolved legislature to have its own devolved agriculture and environment policy to supplement its leadership in other areas.
“Of course, as we move towards elections, which are coming this year, many people will focus on the record of the Scottish Government.
A study by Savanta ComRes for the Scotsman found 58 percent of the 1,013 Scots asked support independence when undecided voters are removed, while 42 percent are in favour of the union.
But a majority for independence is maintained – at 52 percent – when undecided voters are counted, with the figure for those supporting the union at 38 percent.
The new survey is the 17th in a row to show majority support for leaving the UK, with backing for independence first turning the tide in June.
A Survation poll released last week of 1,018 people found 52 percent support for independence when undecided voters were removed.