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MP will keep up Indy Ref 2 opposition

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
MP will keep up Indy Ref 2 opposition

THE Secretary of State for Scotland will continue to be an outspoken opponent of Scottish Independence after he steps down next year.

Alister Jack, MP for Dumfries and Galloway, may not be standing for re-election next term but will still be making his feelings known around the potential of IndyRef2.

Asked if he will still be a strong voice against the SNP-led drive for Scotland to go it alone, Mr Jack this week said: “Yes, I’m absolutely sure that will continue.

“And if you look at the opinion polls on a second referendum, it was polling well over 50 per cent when I came into the job back in 2019.

“Now, it’s well below that, At its best, it’s at low 40 (per cent). When you put the ‘don’t knows’ in there the picture is even worse.

“I believe that the ‘don’t knows’ really do know. I think that, with the silent majority, we’re seeing numbers in the late 30s for independence.

“So I think that dial has shifted a long way. That is something that I was very keen to see happen.”

It was announced several months ago that the Conservative MP will not seek re-election next year, choosing to walk away from the House of Commons.

Mr Jack was first elected to the House of Commons in 2017, then took up his government role in July 2019, succeeding David Mundell as Scottish Secretary.

He said: “What I wanted to do, coming into the role, was to really get across that Scotland has two governments.

“I felt that the UK government had retreated from the frontline politics in Scotland. And I wanted through structural funds, such as the £3.3 billion through initiatives like freeports and investment zones.

“I also wanted to see the direct involvement we have now with all the local authorities in Scotland, which is happening through the UK share prosperity fund.

“I was keen to get it back into people’s psyche that Scotland has two governments, and it’s best when Scotland’s two governments worked for them.

“That’s been a big challenge, but I think we’ve made a lot of ground, and had a lot of success with it.”

When Mr Jack claimed last year that people were too busy dealing with the cost of living crisis to care about another independence referendum, it sparked a backlash from the SNP.

Mhairi Black MP, the SNP’s Shadow Scotland spokesperson, accused him and his Tory colleagues of being more focused on defending law-breaking Boris Johnson than tackling the Tory cost-of-living crisis.

She continued: “People in Scotland have already decided there should be an independence referendum, when the SNP was re-elected last May with the highest share of the vote of any party in the history of devolution. That election saw a record majority of pro-independence MSPs elected — a greater majority than the 2011 result which was the agreed mandate for the 2014 referendum.”

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