BORIS Johnson’s failure to respond positively to Nicola Sturgeon’s request for powers for a second referendum will boost support for independence and make it “more inevitable”, according to Patrick Harvie.

The co-leader of the Scottish Greens spoke out after the Scottish Government failed to receive a reply from the Prime Minister to a letter sent by the First Minister seeking a transfer of powers from Westminster, allowing Holyrood to hold a legally binding vote.

Harvie’s intervention comes after a week which saw angry clashes in the Commons between Johnson’s ministers, including Scottish Secretary Alistair Jack, and SNP MPs over a second independence referendum.

Tensions between the UK and Scottish governments are also at boiling point over Chancellor Sajid Javid’s decision to delay the Budget until March 11.

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Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay this week warned the move was “disrespectful to devolution” and could have “profound consequences” for Scotland as it left little time for ministers to examine UK spending plans before drawing up their own ahead of the new financial year in April.

“The contempt shown to Scotland by the Prime Minister in ignoring the Section 30 request is hardly surprising,” said Harvie. “This is a government taking Scotland out of Europe against its will, trashing our devolved settlement and throwing our budget process into disarray.

He added: “It is the poorest and most vulnerable in Scotland who will pay the most for that contempt.

“What is astonishing is that Boris Johnson appears ignorant of the political fallout from his actions. By taking away the rights and protections people in Scotland value, he only makes independence more inevitable.

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“Given his blatant disregard for our futures, he should at least enable Scotland to decide its own path through a referendum before the Brexit transition period ends. He says that process will take a year, so he’d better get a move on and grant the legislative power to do so.”

The National:

At the start of last week, a spokesman for Downing Street said the PM would respond in “due course” to the First Minister’s letter sent on December 19. But at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Johnson described the 2014 independence referendum as a “once-in-a-generation choice”.

Earlier at Scottish Questions, Jack confirmed the UK Government had received Sturgeon’s request for a second referendum. But he rejected her request, saying: “It would be completely wrong for us to hand those powers over to the Scottish Parliament because we would end up in a series of neverendums.”

The Scottish Government want to hold a referendum later this year while the UK is still in the EU single market and customs union. By continuing to be aligned with EU rules, it would be easier for an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU than it may be once the UK has left the EU and adopted different standards in areas such as workers’ rights, the environment, consumer protection and animal welfare.

The SNP won 12 additional MPs at last month’s general election, bringing their number to 47, having campaigned on a manifesto to hold a second independence referendum, while the Scottish Tories lost seven of their 13 MPs having campaigned to oppose a second independence vote.