Alister Jack has batted away SNP demands for a second independence referendum, calling on the party to instead focus on rebuilding society and the economy in the wake of the pandemic.
The Scottish Secretary said the SNP is “beginning to sound like a broken record” after several MPs used a Commons question session to press the case for a vote.
His comments come after another weekend of opinion polls showing a majority of voters back Scottish independence.
The SNP’s Mhairi Black, referencing the polls, asked Mr Jack: “If he’s so sure of the strength of the Union why is he so afraid to test that strength on another independence referendum?”
‘We’re the party that respects democracy’
He responded: “The referendum took place in 2014, we respect that, it was a democratic outcome.
“We’re the party that respects democracy.”
He added: “Scotland receives over £1,600 more per man, woman and child than the UK average in support, added to which there’s the £8.6 billion of extra coronavirus support and on top of that the furlough support.
“An independent Scotland would have the largest deficit in the European Union and, actually, it would break member state rules.
“I’d remind her what the SNP’s own economic adviser, Andrew Wilson, said, an independent Scotland would face austerity like had never been seen before with increases in taxation and cuts in public spending.
“I believe, as we focus on coming out the pandemic, in being all in the rowing boat together; pulling on the oars in these choppy waters is the best place for Scotland.”
The SNP’s Pete Wishart pressed the question again, asking: “How do the Scottish people democratically acquire the right to have what they want in a referendum?”
“Now is not the time,” Mr Jack responded.