Leaked memo exposes government fears over rise in support for Scottish independence
- Credit: PA
A leaked memo has shown that government ministers are becoming increasingly worried about the rise in support for Scottish independence.
An assessment by Tory advisers warned Boris Johnson against continuously blocking Holyrood's demands for a second referendum on independence.
The document, seen by Bloomberg, was written by Hanbury Strategy and complained of a "vacuum of leadership" within the pro-union movement and urged the prime minister to give Nicola Sturgeon more powers to ward off a break up of the UK.
It came after a poll last week found that almost a third of Scots who voted against independence in 2014 have changed their mind and are either unsure or would vote Yes.
The document also said that Brexit had changed the political landscape in Scotland.
"Put simply, there are not enough Leave voters to convert to the 'No' side to make up for the movement of Remain voters into the 'Yes' camp," it said.
You may also want to watch:
It suggested Westminster work with Holyrood rather than reject advances for a second independence vote, advising ministers to take a three-pronged approach of "new accommodation, new constitutional settlement, and cooperation rather than confrontation".
Dubbed "Four Nations, One Country", the memo also floated the idea of asking the EU to ensure an independent Scotland is not guaranteed membership into the trading bloc.
- 1 Brexit regret: Meet the Leave voters who wish they hadn't voted Leave
- 2 Boris Johnson vows action over 'absurd' post-Brexit trading arrangements
- 3 Defence minister Johnny Mercer 'trying to resign' - reports
- 4 Government scraps Brexit permits to enter Kent
- 5 Opposition parties push for probe into Boris Johnson's conduct following viral video
- 6 Why everyone in rents in Germany
- 7 No 10 says Johnny Mercer is 'valued' minister as it attempts to stop him resigning
- 8 How will you vote in the upcoming elections?
- 9 Plan for White House-style briefings axed despite £2.6m spend on media room
- 10 Boris Johnson challenged over 'honesty and integrity' of Jennifer Arcuri claims
It spoke of trying to "co-opt the EU into demonstrating that there is no viable pathway to renewed membership".
It also recommended handing more control over to Scotland, such as allowing the nation to be responsible for immigration policies.
Hanbury Strategy is run by former government advisers Ameet Gill and Paul Stephenson. Stephenson worked with Dominic Cummings on the Vote Leave campaign in 2016 and assisted the Tory Party with its 2019 general election campaign.
The firm has also been awarded thousands of pounds in government contracts, although the memo is not thought to have been commissioned by ministers.
Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, has insisted that an SNP majority in next May's Holyrood elections could give her a mandate to seek Scottish independence.
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.