RISHI Sunak said he was “looking forward” to speaking to Scotland’s new first minister about a section 30 order as he was pressed over recognising the outcome of a de facto referendum.

The SNP’s Angus MacNeil quizzed the Prime Minister over the issue during a session of the House of Commons Liaison Committee – after he retorted “not for long” as the chair remarked on how well MPs were behaving.

Humza Yousaf said he would seek the powers to hold another referendum “right away” after winning the SNP leadership contest – and MacNeil asked the Prime Minister whether he had rebuffed the idea of granting a section 30 order.

Sunak said he hadn’t had the opportunity to talk to the new first minister yet, adding that he “looked forward” to having a conversation with him.

MacNeil responded: “If you don’t grant that section 30, it would be you don’t want to grant Scotland a referendum. In that case, why would you prefer Scotland to go down the election route for independence rather than a referendum?”

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Sunak said: “I am looking forward to having a dialogue with the new first minister and as I have always said, I think actually what people in Scotland want is to see their two governments working together to deliver for them.

"I was pleased that one of the last things I was able to do with the previous first minister is announce two new freeports in Scotland, which again I think she welcomed rightly as a good example of that cooperation, delivering jobs and opportunities.”

Sunak said he did not think it was appropriate to “try to hijack a General Election” for one issue as he was pressed further on whether he would respect a vote for independence at the ballot box.

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But MacNeil went on: “So as the rest of the world might recognise that result, you might have Iceland, you might have the Nordics, you might have the Baltics, for example all recognising the people of Scotland.

"Are you saying you would unilaterally deny independence or attempt to unilaterally deny that the Scottish people had spoken for independence? I think that is a bad situation to get yourself into.”

The SNP MP went on to grill Sunak about the damage done by Brexit, with the committee chair Tory MP Bernard Jenkin bringing his session to a close by saying: “You are way over time Mr MacNeil, and way off-piste, but you are entitled to ask your own questions.”

Tory MP Simon Hoare quipped in response to the "off-piste" comment: "He’s not even in the same resort!”

Jenkin was also met with laugher as the committee hearing ended when he said: “For the most part everyone has been extremely well behaved … I said for the most part.”

The Prime Minister was quizzed by the Liaison Committee in a two-hour session which also examined issues including Ukraine, the economy, HS2 and immigration.