THE Scotland Office will not say whether it considers Scotland a nation, as criticism over an “extremely sinister revelation” by a UK minister grows.

Scotland Secretary Alister Jack last week contradicted the promise made by David Cameron to voters in 2014’s independence referendum.

In an essay titled “Union is Strength” published last week, the minister wrote: “I am no fan of the ‘four nations’ expression, for the Union gives us one great nation.

“Yes, we can still celebrate the differences within our borders. Of course, it is possible to be, say, a proud Scot and at the same time be a proud Briton. We can all take pleasure in the regional variations that make us different.”

His remarks stand in opposition to Cameron’s words ahead of indyref1.

The National: David Cameron addresses the media on the morning after the independence referendum

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In an address on September 14, mere days before voters went to the polls, the then prime minister said: “The United Kingdom is not one nation. We are four nations in a single country.”

The SNP have now told Jack his position as Scotland Secretary is “untenable”.

The Sunday National asked the Scotland Office whether it remained government policy that the UK was made up of four nations, or whether it was now in line with Jack’s statement that there are only “regional variations”.

A spokesperson told us: “The Secretary of State’s words speak for themselves.”

Jack’s comments put himself out of step with the majority of Scotland.

In the 2011 census, only 8% of respondents described their national identity as “British only” as Jack did. A further 18% said they felt their identity was both “Scottish and British”.

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The combined total of those still falls well short of the 62% who identified themselves as “Scottish only”. Jack’s essay was published in “Strength in Union: The Case for the United Kingdom” by conservative think tank the Centre for Policy Studies.

The collection was edited by Scottish Tory Andrew Bowie, who echoed the minister’s sentiments in his own essay.

The Aberdeenshire MP said that “the greatness of our country” is that “we are four peoples in one”.

SNP MSP Rona Mackay (below) pointed to Jack’s remarks as highlighting how out of touch he is with the people of Scotland.

The National:

She said: “These views of Alister Jack should concern everyone. To believe Scotland is a ‘regional variation’ and not a distinct nation goes way beyond the Tories’ so-called muscular Unionism – it is British nationalism, pure and simple.

“Since his professional position as Scots Secretary is founded solely on Scotland being a nation in the UK, it is an utterly unsuitable opinion for him to hold and publicise.

“He is theoretically meant to be Scotland’s voice in the Tory cabinet, but he believes Scotland as an entity doesn’t exist and we should simply shut up and go away.

“It appears British nationalism is now the official stance of this government – and that disrespects the 2014 indyref vote, which was on the basis of Britain being four nations.

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“Equally, it shows how out of touch the likes of Jack and the Tories are with the people of Scotland when, in the last census, only 8% of people who live here identified themselves as ‘British only’.

“The Tories think they can use their power to impose their beliefs on more than five million Scots, which explains their motivation behind taking the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Bill to court.

“At the very least this is an extremely sinister revelation that surely renders Alister Jack’s position as Scots Secretary untenable.”