TORY minister Michael Gove has sparked a social media row after he suggested Scots who live outside Scotland should have a vote in the next independence referendum.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was responding to a tweet by George Galloway, the former Labour MP, who now leads the fledgling anti-independence Alliance for Unity party.

He wrote: “I’ll tell you this: IF there’s to be a second indyref, then 795,000 Scots living elsewhere in the UK MUST have a vote. If UK expats can vote in General Elections from Spain then an existential question like separatism MUST be answered by all Scots.”

Galloway tagged Gove in his post, who replied late yesterday that it was an “interesting question”.

In the 2014 vote, all citizens of the UK, the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland and other EU member states living in Scotland and over the age of 16 were allowed a vote.

Gove received pelters on Twitter for his endorsement of Galloway’s tweet. SNP Constitutional Secretary Michael Russell pointed out that Scottish Parliament had already passed legislation over the franchise for future referendums in Scotland.

He tweeted: “Bang on cue. Indy support gets to 55% and the attempts at gerrymandering swing into gear.

“Usual suspects have already tried to nobble the question but fortunately @ScotParl has in place best practice guidelines for any future referendum whatever the subject #sawyoucoming.”

READ MORE: The trick to securing a No in indyref2? Rig the vote

SNP depute leader Keith Brown said the debate showed that Michael Gove “now appears to accept a referendum is going to happen”.

Earlier this year the Tory, who grew up in Aberdeen, said there was no chance of Boris Johnson’s government agreeing to indyref2.

Speaking in the Commons just last month, Gove told MPs: “We were told that was a once-in-a-generation vote and I know that promise will be honoured.”

Brown said the fact Gove was “endorsing anything George Galloway says” was “the surest sign yet of the rising panic in Downing Street at the surging support for independence.”

Gove is in charge of the Cabinet’s Union Committee and reportedly left his colleagues stunned at a meeting on July 21 as he spelled out the rising support for independence.

According to the Financial Times, the Cabinet Office minister gave his colleagues a passionate exposition on the risks facing the Union and why they should care.

One person at the Cabinet meeting told the paper: “I think some ministers had, until that point, seen the issue as a bit of a distraction. Michael made it clear that while Covid and Brexit were huge issues, the Government would be unlikely to survive the break-up of the Union.”

A spokesman for the UK Government Cabinet Office said: “The UK Government’s position is very clear. The people of Scotland voted in 2014 to remain part of the UK.

“Our focus is on working with the devolved administrations to make sure that the power of the UK economy is used to help all parts of the UK recover from the Covid pandemic.

Meanwhile, new Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has insisted he can be the next First Minister of Scotland despite polls predicting the SNP will win more than TWICE as many Holyrood seats as the Tories.

According to Ballot Box Scotland analysis of a poll by Savanta ComRes, published yesterday, the SNP are on course to win 67 seats at next year’s election. The Tories are predicted to win 26, Labour 18, the Greens 10 and the LibDems eight.

Asked if he’d campaign like Ruth Davidson in 2016 to be a “stronger opposition,” he said: “There is no point in getting involved in politics if you don’t think you can achieve the ultimate office. I believe next May I’ll have a strong manifesto, a strong team and we want to get the highest office”.