DAVID Mundell has claimed that the 2021 Scottish Parliament vote will be a “referendum on a referendum”.

Speaking candidly in one of his first interviews since being given his jotters by Boris Johnson, the ex-Secretary of State for Scotland said the next Holyrood election would be a “pivotal moment”.

“There’s nothing inevitable about having a second independence referendum, and certainly not in the short term,” he said.

“I do think that the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections will be a pivotal moment. I regret that, because those elections should be about the Scottish Government’s record on health and education and drugs and all the rest of it, but you can already see the direction of travel, that it is effectively going to be a referendum on a referendum.”

He added: “It’s a very clear message that the way to stop another independence referendum is to ensure a Unionist majority in the Scottish Parliament in 2021, so that involves Boris backing Ruth to deliver.”

READ MORE: David Mundell: ‘I didn’t believe in Brexit enough for Boris’

Nicola Sturgeon has previously said she hopes to have indyref2 by the end of 2020, but last week, after Johnson moved into No 10, the First Minister said she was considering whether to accelerate plans.

The Scottish Government put forward legislation in May that could pave the way for a fresh vote on Scottish independence.

Asked last week about the impact of Johnson’s victory, the First Minister told STV: “We will consider whether the timetable we’ve set out to have it on the statute book by the end of this year is still the right one or whether we should accelerate that. Then, of course, we will move forwards on that basis.”

Mundell’s successor at the Scotland Office, Alister Jack, said that the UK Government would reject any request from the Scottish Government for a Section 30 Order, which would transfer powers over to Holyrood so that a referendum could take place.

“Absolutely not. We decided that in 2014,” he said.

The National:

A spokesman for the SNP said: “In line with the democratic mandate given to the SNP in 2016 we are continuing to make preparations to give people in Scotland the choice of becoming an independent country.

“That mandate to hold another independence referendum is not a matter of opinion – it is a matter of fact.

The right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future is a basic democratic principle that must be respected.

“The people of Scotland overwhelmingly voted against Brexit – yet we face being driven off an economic cliff-edge by a Tory government which we have also overwhelmingly rejected.

“It’s no wonder support for the Tories has plummeted in Scotland – and no wonder support for independence is increasing.”

In his interview, Mundell also urged Johnson to “listen to Ruth”, saying that there were significant differences between the political cultures in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“There is no doubt that Ruth has transformed Conservative fortunes in Scotland and has a lot of data and facts and experience about how that’s been achieved, and she does want to work with Boris to demonstrate what messages are important in Scotland, what people want from their political leaders, what they want in Scotland.”