Michael Gove has been in talks with George Galloway to discuss how to protect the UK against rising support for Scottish independence, it has emerged.
The discussions were held shortly after Mr Galloway launched his Alliance for Unity party, which aims to take on the SNP.
Senior figures in Boris Johnson’s government have also been in touch with former Labour first minister Lord McConnell to discuss the UK internal market.
And it has been reported that Mr Gove has been in touch with the former Inverness, Badenoch and Strathspey Lib Dem MP Danny Alexander, who was chief secretary to the Treasury in David Cameron’s coalition government.
It is understood the talks have been held on an informal basis but they come at a time when Mr Gove, who is from Aberdeen, has been given greater responsibility for defending the Union.
Mr Gove sought to “sound out” Mr Galloway and reports suggested they discussed strategy. The Cabinet Office Minister has also held a number of conversations with Scottish pro-Union politicians from a variety of parties in the last six months, as support for independence has grown.
This week a Panelbase poll put support for leaving the UK at a record 55%, while another, for ComRes, put independence backing at 54%.
At first glance, an alliance between Mr Gove and Mr Galloway, the socialist former Labour MP and current broadcaster on Kremlin-backed RT, would appear to be an unlikely one. But Mr Galloway was a prominent No supporter during the 2014 independence referendum, appearing on the debating stage with Ruth Davidson.
Mr Gove tweeted “interesting question” when the idea was raised by Mr Galloway.
Interesting question https://t.co/jJnxe4fyAr
— Michael Gove (@michaelgove) August 19, 2020
SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown said: “Michael Gove now appears to accept a referendum is going to happen – but the fact he seems to be endorsing anything George Galloway says is the surest sign yet of the rising panic in Downing Street at the surging support for independence.
“Mr Gove is already on record as saying ‘it wouldn’t be fair’ to change the franchise rules for a second referendum, and the 2014 vote, based on residency, set the gold standard.
“And he must be really desperate if he hopes to find inspiration from an unelected lord and a Lib Dem who was Scots Secretary for all of two weeks.”