BORIS Johnson’s government has formally refused a request for indyref2 despite the elections returning an independence supporting Holyrood in May, The National can reveal.

The move follows a letter sent to the Prime Minister from the SNP’s Angus MacNeil, who asked Johnson “to respect democracy” and agree a new vote by granting the Scottish Government a Section 30 order if it asks for one.

MacNeil also called upon Johnson to respond to him in person rather than delegating the responsibility to another Conservative minister.

“You will be aware that the Scottish Parliament has a majority for independence and I hope you will respect Scottish democracy, in the same way the EU respected UK democracy,” wrote the Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP on May 28.

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“If the Scottish Government asks for a Section 30, will you be respecting Scottish democracy and agreeing to a Section 30? Indeed, if you do not respect Scottish democracy and do not agree a Section 30, I hope that neither you, or associates, will be interfering in the Scottish parliamentary process in Scotland to hold a referendum on independence.”

Read the full letter:

The National:

Johnson passed MacNeil’s letter to Scottish Secretary Alister Jack who ruled out the request.

“The UK Government is very clear that a divisive referendum on Scotland’s separation from the United Kingdom at this time would be an irresponsible distraction from the necessary work of recovery from the pandemic,” Jack replied in his letter on June 23. We are recovering from the worst public health crisis in a century and people across the United Kingdom rightly expect our full focus to be on driving our recovery forward.

“That means, for example, completing the vaccination roll-out, supporting businesses to get back on their feet, ensuring our children can catch up on their missed education and finding jobs for our young people.”

He added: “An all-consuming constitutional debate would only distract and delay us from addressing these urgent challenges which we collectively face. Indeed, we will recover faster and stronger if all parts of the United Kingdom work constructively together and, as the Prime Minister made clear at his meeting with the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland on June 3, divergent views on the constitution should not prevent us from doing so.”

In his letter MacNeil pointed to Holyrood election results with a majority of MSPs supporting independence and asked Johnson if he was in the camp of politicians who respected democracy or in the camp of politicians who did not.

He continued: “We have seen in countries in Eastern Europe and indeed with Donald Trump in North America, what happens when people don’t respect democracy. As I have pointed out to you at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, May 26, the 2014 independence referendum was won on broken promises, to which you responded it was ‘once in a generation’.

Read the full letter:

The National:

“However, broken promises by far trump the views of ‘once in a generation’. In fact, you yourself described the 2019 election as a ‘once in a generation’ election. Hopefully you weren’t being literal and democracy can continue in the current UK.”

The referendum refusal comes as a poll published by the Sunday Times found that support for independence had fallen 4% in two months to 48%.

With support for independence dipping to its lowest level in a Panelbase poll for more than two years, pollster Professor John Curtice observed that the SNP could not afford for the independence debate “to be off the boil for long”.