BORIS Johnson has taken the time to write to Nicola Sturgeon rejecting her request for a Section 30 order, despite his Cabinet falling apart around him.

The First Minister wrote to the Prime Minister last week making the request, effectively as a formality as Downing Street has repeatedly ruled out giving its consent for another independence referendum.

Sturgeon has already referred the matter of whether Holyrood can legally legislate on indyref2 to the Supreme Court. If the court rules that the Scottish Parliament cannot do so, she intends to use the next General Election as a de-facto referendum, with a majority of votes for the SNP providing a mandate.

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As dozens of ministers and ministerial aides quit the UK Government on Wednesday, and the Prime Minister faced a double grilling over his handling of the Chris Pincher allegations at PMQs and in the Liaison Committee, Johnson’s response to Scotland’s First Minister was published.

“I have carefully considered the arguments you set out for a transfer of power from the UK Parliament to the Scottish Parliament to hold another referendum on independence.

“As our country faces unprecedented challenges at home and abroad, I cannot agree that now is the time to return to a question, which was clearly answered by the people of Scotland in 2014.”

He went on: “Our shared priorities must be to respond effectively to the global cost of living challenge, to support our NHS and public services as they recover from the huge disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, and to play our leading part in the international response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. These are common challenges across the United Kingdom, which deserve our full attention.

“People rightly expect the UK and Scottish governments to work collaboratively in their best interests – and that is what we are doing, as is evidenced by our productive call on Monday evening. We are co-operating on measures to ease the cost of living, and I hope we will soon have the chance, alongside colleagues from the Welsh government and the Northern Ireland Executive, to discuss further action at the next Prime Minister and heads of devolved government council.

Nicola Sturgeon had requested a Section 30 order - but did not expect it to be accepted

“On Covid-19, we are maintaining the close collaboration begun during the acute phase of the pandemic, as we continue to navigate the next phase. On Ukraine, I am grateful for your ongoing support for the UK’s response to Putin’s brutality. The Scottish Government is making a significant contribution to our humanitarian response, through the innovative devolved government-sponsor route in our Homes for Ukraine scheme.

“The Scottish Government’s contribution of £65m to our further military support for Ukraine will help our gallant allies continue their fight. Moreover, our ministerial colleagues are strengthening and deepening their co-operation at all levels through the new interministerial groups.

“On all fronts, we stand to achieve so much more for the people we serve by continuing to work together as partners.”

Nicola Sturgeon had requested a Section 30 order - but did not expect it to be accepted

Sturgeon responded by suggesting the letter had been one of the last acts as Prime Minister, as pressure ramped up for him to leave.

Two Cabinet members who had been appointed less than 24 hours before, Nadhim Zahawi and Michelle Donelan, were reported to be among the group of ministers telling Johnson to resign.

"Just received this from Johnson (one of his last acts as PM?)," Sturgeon said. 

"To be clear, Scotland will have the opportunity to choose independence - I hope in a referendum on 19 October 2023 but, if not, through a General Election. Scottish democracy will not be a prisoner of this or any PM."

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The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

The letter came after the First Minister and Johnson spoke in a brief telephone conversation on Monday in which they discussed “a range of topics”.

On her push for a second referendum, she told the Prime Minister that Holyrood was “ready and willing to negotiate” steps towards holding another vote, but said if blocked it would not mean voters north of the Border are “refused the democratic right to choose”.