MICHAEL Gove has insisted people in Scotland did not vote for a second referendum, despite the SNP winning the election and returning a pro-independence majority in Holyrood with the Scottish Greens.

The Cabinet Office minister told the BBC that voters “made it clear” that during the election campaign their priorities were recovery from the pandemic, “jobs and jabs”.

When presenter Andrew Marr pressed him on the fact they also made it clear they wanted a second independence referendum, Gove said: “No, they did not.”

The SNP won an historic fourth term in government at the election, netting 64 MSPs while the Greens tally came to eight – returning an independence majority of eight in Holyrood, the largest since devolution.

Both parties included a commitment in their manifestos to hold a new referendum within the new parliamentary term.

In her victory speech on Saturday, the First Minister declared that people voted for a second independence referendum and declared it “the will of the people”.

She wants to hold a new vote with the Prime Minister’s agreement, but if that is not forthcoming, the Scottish Government would push ahead with one using Holyrood legislation.

Ahead of the election, it was suggested the move could lead the UK Government to launch a legal challenge to the Scottish Government in the Supreme Court.

But Gove said the UK Government would not take the Scottish Government to court over such Holyrood legislation.

The Cabinet Office minister gave the response in two television interviews.

Asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr whether he would take the First Minister to court to stop the Scottish Parliament passing legislation to hold indrefy2, he said: “No.”

He then went on to congratulate the First Minister on the SNP’s “significant election victory” and underlined, like Sturgeon, that the “priority at the moment is not court cases or independence legislation, it is recovery from the pandemic”.

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Pressed again on whether his government would launch a legal fight with the Scottish Government over independence legislation, Gove responded: “We’re not going near there.”

The Cabinet Office minister also gave the same response when he appeared on Sky News.

Asked by presenter Sophy Ridge if he would block legislation passed in Holyrood to hold a second referendum, Gove replied: “No, what we are concentrating on doing at the moment is making sure we work together to deal with all of the challenges that we face across the whole United Kingdom.”

He added: “If we get sucked into a conversation about referenda and constitutions, then we are diverting attention from the issues that are most important to the people in Scotland and across the United Kingdom.

“I hope that what people want from a Holyrood government, and also from the Westminster government, is a commitment to work together on these issues.

“So, instead of concentrating on the things that divide, let’s concentrate on the things that unite and let’s concentrate on all of us to work together to serve the people that just voted for us.”

During the interview, Gove claimed that if he walked down Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow, passers-by wouldn’t ask him about a Supreme Court legal challenge.

In response, Lorna Slater, the Scottish Greens co-leader, who has been elected to Holyrood, tweeted: “The Michael Gove interview on BBC this morning was pure comedy.

“He should definitely come to Alloa and walk through the streets and ask people what they think of him.”

Gove is spending time in Scotland this week as part of his responsibilities to seek to keep the UK together and stop independence.

The UK Government do not recognise that the SNP have a mandate for a second referendum as it did not win an outright majority – a view strongly rejected by the First Minister and Scottish Greens.

Gove also told the BBC that “a majority of people who voted in the constituencies voted for parties that were opposed to a referendum”, and that Sturgeon “didn’t secure a majority as Alex Salmond did in 2011. That is a significant difference.”