Borders MP David Mundell is urging Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to abandon her push for a second independence referendum.
Ms Sturgeon announced yesterday that consultation will begin next week on legislation for a second UK exit poll, but Mr Mundell believes that would be bad for the country’s economy.
“Constant talk of another independence referendum is creating uncertainty and damaging the Scottish economy at a time when our growth is lagging behind the UK as a whole,” said the Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP, also Scottish Secretary.
“The people of Scotland spoke loudly and clearly in the result of the legal, fair and decisive referendum of 2014, and that should be respected, as the UK and Scottish Governments both committed to do in the 2012 Edinburgh Agreement.
“As we prepare to leave the European Union, the First Minister should commit her government to working constructively with the UK Government to seize the opportunities that will bring, not taking Scotland back to the divisive constitutional debates of the past.”
Ms Sturgeon told delegates at this year’s Scottish National Party conference in Glasgow that an independence referendum bill would be published within a matter of days.
“I am determined that Scotland will have the ability to reconsider the question of independence, and to do so before the UK leaves the EU, if that is necessary to protect our country’s interests.
“We must engage the arguments with a fresh eye and an open mind. The case for independence will have to be made and won.”
Addressing UK Prime Minister Theresa May, she added: “If you think for one single second that I’m not serious about doing what it takes to protect Scotland’s interests, then think again.
“If you can’t, or won’t, allow us to protect our interests within the UK, then Scotland will have the right to decide afresh if it wants to take a different path.”
The SNP leader was sticking to her guns today, dismissing suggestions that Mrs May could try to block a second independence poll as “inconceivable”.
“Scotland is in a position just now we didn’t ask to be in,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“We have been put into this position by, largely, the Conservative Party, and if as a result of that, there is a view in the Scottish Parliament that the best way to protect our interests is to offer the choice of independence again, the idea that the same party that put us into that position would then deny us that choice I just find inconceivable.
“There is an ability to be creative and look at different options that respect how different parts of the UK voted. I think there are ways in which that can be done.
“I have never since the referendum pretended it will be straightforward or without challenges, and maybe we will find that none of these ways are possible and that independence is the only option to pursue, but we will try very hard to put other options on the table, and I hope Theresa May will listen to them very carefully.”
“I absolutely accept that if Scotland is in another independence debate, then there are hard economic questions that will be asked that I and those advocating independence have a responsibility to answer.
“I think it is very likely the UK deficit is going to deteriorate because of the economic implications of Brexit.
“This is no longer about the certainty of the UK versus the uncertainty of independence. The UK route is highly uncertain.
“This is about how we give ourselves maximum control over our economic future.”
A spokeswoman for Mrs May said: “There was a referendum in 2014 that addressed this issue that was legal and fair. The result was decisive, and both parties agreed at the time to respect it.
“There was a clear question on the ballot paper, and we should respect the democratic decision that was made.”