Alister Jack has snapped back at calls for a second independence referendum next year by telling nationalists to “accept” the vote was a once-in-25-years event.
The Scottish Secretary, speaking in the Commons, said “it beggars belief” the SNP continues to advocate for a referendum during the pandemic.
Mr Jack provoked SNP outrage last week after saying in an interview with the BBC that the generation wait for indyref2 could be up to 40 years.
Nicola Sturgeon linked it to Donald Trump losing the US election.
SNP Pete Wishart made a similar comparison at Scottish questions, saying: “Saying no to a majority in Scotland is only going to drive support for independence even higher.”
“The Scottish people are not finding this democracy denial funny anymore, so what’s the difference between denying a majority and the Trump White House and denying a majority in the Scotland Office?”
Mr Jack replied: “He had quite a tenuous link there. To be quite simple, my belief is that we stick to the referendum and respect it from 2014. It was very clear the SNP said at the time it was once in a generation.
“I don’t believe we should go into a process of ‘neverendums’ which are divisive, unsettling, bad for jobs in Scotland.
“We should respect democracy and that’s what I’m doing, democracy that was handed out by the Scottish people in 2014.”
An unhappy marriage?
Following the exchange, the SNP’s Dr Philippa Whitford described Scotland as a wife being trapped in an unhappy marriage.
She said: “He seems to think the way to strengthen the union is by forcing a hard Brexit on Scotland against our will, taking an axe to devolution with the Internal Market Bill and denying any democratic choice on Scotland’s future until adults like me are dead.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack straying close to the 'dog ate my homework' territory here… pic.twitter.com/gjqDHHZeXr
— Richard Wheeler (@richard_kaputt) November 11, 2020
“On that basis, does he think the best recipe for a happy marriage is to lock up the wife, take away her chequebook and just keep refusing a divorce?”
Mr Jack responded: “I think it’s quite straightforward – we are respecting democracy, we are saying we are acknowledging once in a generation, we don’t believe Scotland should be thrown (into) the uncertainty of ‘neverendums’, and it’s very straightforward.
“A generation, by any calculation, is 25 years and, frankly, you just have to accept that and focus on what matters, which is recovering from this pandemic and us all pulling together.”