Michael Gove dismisses survey showing increased support for Scottish independence as ‘just another poll’

Cabinet minister Michael Gove answering questions in House of Commons; Parliamentlive

Cabinet minister Michael Gove answering questions in House of Commons; Parliamentlive - Credit: Archant

Michael Gove has dismissed polling that shows increasing numbers of Scots want to leave the UK as 'just another poll'.

Gove was taking questions in the Commons when he was asked for his thoughts on why a consistent run of polls show that a majority of Scots want to leave the Union.

The SNP's Pete Wishart put it to Gove - who was born in Aberdeen - to explain him why he thought calls for Scottish independence had reached 'a sustained majority' in the past year.

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The Cabinet Office minister replied: 'Well, opinion polls come and go.'

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He went on: 'I'm always interested in what opinion polls tell me but I'm rather more interested in real votes cast in real ballot boxes, and the last time the people of Scotland were asked if they wanted to remain in the United Kingdom, they decided that they did want to by a whopping 10 percentage points.

'Since then, of course, we've seen how the strength of this United Kingdom has supported Scotland's economy.

'And indeed I was very interested to see earlier today that one of the economic advisers to the First Minister said that the support of the UK government would be vital to Scotland's economic recovery.'

Wishart responded: 'You might not like opinion polls … but let him tell of another couple of opinion polls. Support for SNP is now at 55% and what we're actually seeing is support for independence growing month by month. So I'll try and answer it for him, he can tell me which one of these he agrees with.

'Support for independence is rising because of their Brexit. And the way they're imposing Brexit on us … the disrespect, the condescension, the power grab, the barely hidden contempt for our nation, from his colleagues behind him there, the mistreatment of our parliament and of course the chaotic leadership of his honourable friend the prime minister. Which one of those does he think is rising independence most?'

Gove then shifted the line of questions to focus on the SNP government's education policies.

He told the Perth and North Perthshire MP: 'One of the things that reminds me is when I sat my O-grades, sat my multiple choice exams when I was a schoolboy in Aberdeen, Scotland's schools were stronger than England's schools. Now after 10 years of SNP government Scotland's schools have fallen behind.

'The record of the SNP in government I'm afraid has been one of complacency and neglect and that is why I believe we need to have a strong UK government working alongside MSPs from every party in order to make our United Kingdom stronger than ever.'

Two polls in the last month have shown support for independence at 54%, while a number of Holyrood election voting intention surveys indicate an SNP majority in the Scottish parliament next year.

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