ALISTER Jack has claimed he was joking when he ruled out indyref2 for 40 years.
The Secretary of State for Scotland said he only mentioned the four decade wait for a new vote because the BBC journalist interviewing him had “raised an eyebrow”.
However, he said he would be happy with a new referendum 25 years after the first one – in 2039.
Last week, the Tory said ministers would rule out a referendum regardless of the outcome of next year’s election.
“It’s no for a generation,” he said.
Asked to define a generation, he said: “Is it 25 years or is it 40 years? You tell me. But it’s certainly not six years, nor 10”.
Asked later if the comments were government policy, Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “The PM has said on countless occasions that the issue of independence was settled when the Scottish people voted decisively to remain part of the UK.
“It was billed at the time as a once in a generation vote and the Prime Minister has been clear that he believes that must be respected.”
Asked if Johnson would agree that a “generation” would be between 25 and 40 years, the spokesman said: “The fact is that people voted to keep our United Kingdom together. It was billed at the time as a once in a generation vote.”
Nicola Sturgeon compared Jack’s remarks to Donald Trump refusing to concede the US election.
She tweeted: “As we’re seeing across the Atlantic just now, politicians who rage against democracy don’t prevail. Let’s not dignify this rubbish.”
Appearing at the Scotland Land & Estates virtual annual conference on Tuesday, Jack was asked about his comment.
Jack said: “On a generation, I said 25 years to [BBC journalist] Glenn Campbell, and then he raised an eyebrow, so I said to him, slightly jocularly, or 40, but certainly not six and certainly not 10.
“But 25 years, whenever I’ve looked at what a generation is, it seems to be between 25 and 30 years, and I’m settling on 25.
“Once in a generation was mentioned many times in the SNP’s White Paper for the independence referendum and that’s why I refer back to it.”
He added: “I stand by a generation. I think we should focus on recovery from the Covid pandemic.
“We’re going to see, probably, a double-dip recession.
“There’s a huge amount of work to do to rebuild ourselves up to be the fifth biggest economy in the world. We can get ourselves back up there.
“We need to be focused entirely on that, because that is all about jobs and livelihoods.”