Leadsom ‘would not rule out’ fresh independence referendum - but rejects a People’s Vote

Andrea Leadsom launches her campaign to become leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party. Photog

Andrea Leadsom launches her campaign to become leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Despite ruling out a People's Vote, and the Tories claiming there would be no re-run of the 2014 referendum, Andrea Leadsom has suggested that a fresh vote on Scottish independence could take place under her leadership.

The Tory leadership contender said she would "never say never" on the matter because she believed in devolution.

Addressing a press gallery lunch, the candidate said: "In reality all of these things would be up for negotiation... I don't think most people in Scotland would want that to happen but I would never say never.

"The reason I say 'never say never' is because I do not think that there should be another independence referendum in Scotland, I do not think it's in their interest, but on the other hand I am a big believer in devolution.

"So, what I just want to say is I am not going to stand here and utterly rule it out because I think that that is disrespectful."

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But she said she would fight against the referendum if it looked likely to happen, adding: "I would very strongly fight against a second referendum, which I don't think is in the interest of Scotland and it's definitely not in the interests of the UK.

"What I think we have to be doing is promote the strength of the UK working together far stronger, far more than we have done and I have a number of policy areas that I would use to try and make that happen."

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The Tory government had previously ruled out a re-run of the 2014 referendum claiming that the matter was closed.

Leadsom has consistently rejected the idea of a People's Vote, claiming it would be undemocratic.

She resigned from cabinet over Theresa May's "bold offer" which could have pathed the way for a second referendum in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

She said in April: "It is appalling to consider another referendum. We had a People's Vote in 2016 and we have to do what we were told to do."

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