Tory minister’s ‘gut feeling’ that Scotland is heading towards independence

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Merchandise on sale at the SNP conference.

A Conservative minister has admitted he has a “gut feeling” that Scots are shifting their opinions towards independence.

Guto Bebb, the Under Secretary of State for Wales, warned “nothing can be taken for granted” in a blog about the future of the constitution.

He wrote: “My brief visit to Edinburgh left me somewhat despondent because I felt the same way as I do when I leave Dublin.

“For me Dublin is somewhere which is recognisable but very different. That is fine in the context of the capital of an independent country but it should be a warning when visiting a city which is a crucial part of the UK.

“The sense of nationhood in Edinburgh is palpable. For a long time it has been satisfied within the UK.

“Even in 2014 a majority saw themselves as British and Scottish. Is that changing though? My gut feeling is yes and that should be a cause for regret to all of us.”

The comments are likely to infuriate Prime Minister Theresa May, who said on Thursday that “now is not the time” to hold a second independence referendum.

Her intervention followed Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that she will ask for the powers to hold another vote, provided Holyrood votes to approve the move on Wednesday.

Mr Bebb recently hit the headlines for saying he would “apologise to every voter in Wales” for a plan to raise National Insurance, which was later scrapped by Chancellor Philip Hammond.