THE UK Government will not stand in the way of another vote on Scottish independence if it is the “settled will” of voters, Michael Gove has said.

Westminster has repeatedly rejected requests from the Scottish Government for a Section 30 order to hold another vote but the Cabinet Office minister said if the public desire a second referendum, “one would occur”.

Gove told the Sunday Mail: “The principle that the people of Scotland, in the right circumstances, can ask that question again is there.

“I just don’t think that it is right, and the public don’t think it is right, to ask that question at the moment.

READ MORE: Michael Gove says when he wants to see indyref2 during Lords questions

“If it is the case that there is clearly a settled will in favour of a referendum, then one will occur.”

It is unclear what would convince the UK Government that another vote is the “settled will” of Scots but it could potentially mean positive election results for independence parties or continuous polling in favour for a certain period of time.

In the Scottish Parliament election earlier this year, pro-independence parties won more votes than Unionist parties – with pro-Yes candidates winning more than 50% of the vote in six out of eight regional lists in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon has previously told Boris Johnson it is a case of "when, not if" a second referendum will go ahead, citing the 2021 results as a mandate for a constitutional vote during the second half of the parliamentary term. 

The National:

Blackford called on the UK Government to respect the 2021 election result

Scotland elected 72 pro-independence MSPs from the SNP and Scottish Greens, with the SNP only one MSP away from an outright majority. 

The SNP hit back and called on the UK Government to recognise that the "settled will" of the people was expressed in the May 6 election.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP said: “It should not be news that the Tories are finally waking up to the fact that the people of Scotland have expressed their democratic wishes in an election that they want their future to be put into their hands.

“The fundamental point Michael Gove missed is that the people of Scotland have spoken and expressed their settled will that they want to hold a referendum when they elected a majority of independence supporting MSPs to the Scottish Parliament just over two months ago.

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“If Boris Johnson continues to ignore the mandate given by the people of Scotland to hold a referendum then he will continue to tell the people of Scotland that their opinion does not matter. That will only push support for independence up.

“We face the prospect of another decade of Tory austerity, which we are already seeing the start of as they cut vital support to hardworking families at a time when they need it the most. The people of Scotland must be given a choice to take a different path.

“Ultimately, we cannot trust the Tories to protect Scotland and so the only way we can do that is by becoming an independent country.”

Gove also rejected the chance of a third tilt at the leadership of the Conservatives, after failing in 2016 and 2019.

He said: “Historically, people who have run to be prime minister in the Tory Party and don’t make it don’t subsequently make it.

The National:

Gove said the UK Government would allow indyref2 if it is 'settled will' of Scots

“I’ve had two goes and got bronze both times. I don’t think I’ll get the gold medal and I have to recognise that.

“I think Boris will be Prime Minister for a good while yet and there is a crop of younger people coming up who would be much better equipped than me.

“I won’t spoil their future by naming them but there comes a point where you have to recognise you’ve had your shot.”

READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: A second independence referendum must be held in 2022

It comes as Boris Johnson's government lost an appeal against a ruling ordering it to hand over secret polling attitudes to the Union. 

Earlier this month the UK Government launched a legal challenge after it was told to make the documents public within 28 days. 

The tribunal backed a request by SNP MP Tommy Sheppard for the files to be released.

The Cabinet Office, led by Gove, appealed on the final deadline day earlier this month arguing the decision to release the information was incorrect.

But, in a writted judgement, Judge Stephen Cragg QC threw out the government's appeal.