SENIOR UK Government figures are reportedly looking to impose new barriers to Scottish independence by legislating that more than half of Scotland’s entire electorate would have to vote Yes in a referendum for the result to be accepted.  

The Sunday Times reported that ministers are looking at plans that would require evidence for more than a year that at least 60% of voters in Scotland want a second referendum before the UK government would consider it.

Should ministers agree to hold one, it would then require more than 50% of Scotland’s entire electorate to vote for independence for it to be passed.

Neither the 2014 independence referendum or the 2016 EU referendum required half of the entire electorate to participate for the result to be adhered to. The convention is that a simple majority of those who turn out to vote suffices.

A senior government ally of Liz Truss defended the plans.

He said: “After all, the SNP said after the 2014 referendum that they would not seek another one until polls consistently showed more than 60 per cent of the public would vote to leave the UK.

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“In order to achieve independence it would not be unreasonable for the Yes side to demonstrate that it was the settled will of the Scottish people like in the 1997 devolution referendum where there was a three to one majority in favour of a Scottish Parliament.”

The Government could impose the legislation in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling on the First Minister’s plans to hold a second independence referendum without the UK government’s approval.

However, some within the Conservative Party fear that such a heavy-handed approach to Scottish democracy could be risky.

The potential move is being likened to the Cunningham amendment, which required 40% of the total electorate to turn out in the devolution referendum of 1979 as well as a 50% majority vote in favour for the result to be legally binding.

It ultimately set devolution back 20 years despite a majority of voters backing it.

The proposals are already being denounced by independence supporters, who are asking why such stringent requirements were not in place for the EU referendum.

If such legislation had been in place in 2014, when 85% of the electorate turned out to vote, the Yes side would have needed more than 500,000 extra votes to win.

During the 2014 referendum 38% of the electorate were in favour of independence, with 47% against and 15% failing to cast a vote.