UK Government ministers are being told to stop talking about Scottish independence, over fears it makes Westminster sound “needy”.
They have been told not to engage with the SNP or proactively make the case for the union, as there are fears it plays into the hands of the nationalists.
Ministers are now being advised to take a “show-not-tell” approach to the issue by prioritising policies that will benefit the UK and by making sure civil servants think about how their decisions will impact on Scotland.
This comes after Lord McInnes of Kilwinning, former director of the Scottish Conservatives, was appointed as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s adviser on the union.
It is understood he wants to shut down the debate on Scottish independence with the SNP, after the party failed to win an outright majority in the May Holyrood election.
One Whitehall source told The Times McInnes believes UK ministers addressing IndyRef2 were helping to keep it high on the political agenda.
The source said: “It makes the government sound needy and keeps the focus on independence rather than the SNP’s political record in power.”
‘Very hard to win’
Another senior government figure added: “If we were to have another referendum any time soon then it would be very hard to win.
“Sturgeon would present it as a chance for Scotland to rejoin the European Union and independence would almost be the status quo proposition.
“If there is ever to be another referendum it needs to be on our terms where remaining part of the UK is the status quo option, as in 2014.”