Scottish Secretary David Mundell has insisted there is “no mood” in Scotland for a second independence referendum as Theresa May prepares to meet First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh.
Mrs May will use her first official visit as Prime Minister to try to persuade Scotland that there is nothing to fear in a post-Brexit United Kingdom.
Her trip comes after she completed a brutal shake-up of her Cabinet which saw numerous allies of her predecessor, David Cameron, axed.
Mrs May stressed her desire to keep the UK together in the wake of the EU referendum result immediately after she was made Prime Minister.
But Mrs Sturgeon has warned that a possible Brexit backlash makes a second referendum on independence “highly likely”.
Mr Mundell told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “What people in Scotland don’t want is this toxic and divisive issue of a second Scottish independence referendum being put on the table and blurring the issues around the EU negotiations.”
He continued: “People in Scotland are in no mood for a second independence referendum and business in particular in Scotland isn’t in a mood to have the issue of Scottish independence blurring the very, very important negotiations to get Scotland the best possible deal from the EU negotiations.”
Scotland voted 62% to 38% to remain in the EU on June 23.
Mr Mundell was asked whether Westminster would stand in the way of a second independence referendum should the Scottish people not like the deal that is eventually struck with Brussels.
He said: “Of course there could be another independence referendum but the big issue is should there be another independence referendum given that over two million people voted 18 months ago to remain in the United Kingdom.
“I’m clear there shouldn’t and will continue to passionately make the case for that and also for the benefit Scotland gets from the United Kingdom.”
Mr Mundell said ministers want the Scottish Government to be “very much involved” in Brexit negotiations while voters north of the border want to see a “Team UK approach”.
Speaking ahead of her visit, Mrs May said: “I believe with all my heart in the United Kingdom – the precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This visit to Scotland is my first as Prime Minister and I’m coming here to show my commitment to preserving this special union that has endured for centuries.”
Mrs Sturgeon has warned it would be against the country’s national interest to be forced out of the bloc against the wishes of its voters.