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Former Tory adviser concedes there is a mandate for Indyref2

People take part in the All Under One Banner Scottish independence demonstration at the Robert the Bruce statue at the Battle of Bannockburn site near Stirling - Credit: PA

The Tories privately admit there is a mandate for a second referendum on Scottish independence and that it could take place as early as 2023, a former adviser has said.

Ex-communications chief for the Scottish Conservatives Andy Maclver told STV’s Scotland Tonight that it was “perfectly obvious” last week’s election results were a mandate for Indyred2.

The SNP declared a vote on Scottish independence was a matter of “when – not if” after returning 64 MSPs to parliament – one short of an outright majority.

They could join the Scottish Greens, who won eight seats in the election on the platform of promising a fresh vote on independence in the next parliament, to push through legislation for a new referendum.

Westminster has not ruled out taking legal action if a vote goes ahead.

Asked about the chances of a second vote in the wake of Thursday’s results, MacIver said: “I think already privately attitudes in the Tory Party are starting to soften a little bit. If you catch them privately they know there’s a mandate. It’s perfectly obvious there’s a mandate.

“The election was purely about the referendum, that’s what both main parties said it was about. And that’s what people voted on the basis of. In this country we don’t need a majority of seats for a mandate that’s not how the Scottish parliament works, nor do we need a majority of votes

“So I think attitudes are beginning to soften a little bit and ultimately I think they realise the pressure will just become too great. I think democratic pressure from overseas could be there, I think they feel put under pressure by the fact Labour and the LibDems, I think, will acknowledge the mandate at some point relatively soon as well. I think ultimately it will happen at some point, maybe in 2023, 2024.”

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford yesterday told the Tories they are living in a “parallel universe” after they claimed there is no mandate.

During a Queen’s Speech debate in the House of Commons, Blackford said there is now a “fresh democratic commitment to give the Scottish people the right to choose an independent future”.

“There is a mandate for an independence referendum and let me put this House on notice – it’s the people of Scotland and our parliament that will determine when that independence referendum will take place,” he told MPs.