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

PUBLISHED: 16:00 11 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:10 11 June 2019

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

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

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."

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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