ONE of the most powerful Tory figures in the UK seems to have inadvertently told the House of Commons that indyref2 is on its way.
The statement from Ben Wallace, the Secretary of State for Defence, stands in contrast to the public position of the Westminster Government.
Boris Johnson’s Tories both north and south of the Border have frequently stated that there will not be another independence referendum because Scotland had its say in 2014.
However, answering a question from Margaret Ferrier in the Commons earlier today, Wallace said that his Tories were involved in a campaign to “save the Union at the next referendum”.
Ferrier, who sits as an independent after being suspended by the SNP for travelling while Covid-positive, had asked the Defence Secretary about the “risk of disruption” to the defence supply chain from post-Brexit border regulations and bureaucracy.
The MP made reference to analysis from army-technology.com, which quotes a defence industry CEO as saying: “The delivery of defence programmes and capabilities could be greatly affected if the UK experiences delays or challenges with implementing new processes [after Brexit].”
Fears have also been raised by Westminster that Brexit could see huge disruption to medical supply chains, lorry queues of up to 7000 vehicles, and a de facto border erected around the English county of Kent.
READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Indyref2 ‘should come in earlier part’ of next Holyrood term
Speaking remotely to the Commons, Ferrier said: “Given the UK Government is pursuing an increasingly reckless strategy in Brexit negotiations, will the Secretary of State clarify what measures are being taken to ensure no disruption in the defence supply chain?”
Wallace ignored Ferrier’s question, instead taking a shot at those hoping for Scottish independence.
He said: “The honourable lady is making a brilliant argument for why we don’t want to put borders between countries.
“Perhaps she could join our campaign to save the Union at the next referendum.”
Wallace, who sits as the Tory MP for Wyre and Preston North, was a Tory list MSP for North East Scotland from 1999 to 2003.
Now, as the Defence Secretary, Wallace is considered the seventh highest ranking politician in the United Kingdom.
Wallace’s reference to “the next referendum” comes after the SNP’s leader at Westminster, Ian Blackford, and the party’s depute leader, Keith Brown, both called for a referendum on independence in 2021.
Those calls were also backed up by Nicola Sturgeon’s statement that a second indyref should come in the “earlier part” of the next Holyrood term.
Although the Tories have publicly denied that an SNP majority in next year’s Scottish parliamentary elections would be a mandate for indyref2, the Defence Secretary’s comments will fuel speculation that they are privately preparing for the vote.
The Tories have spent at least £1 million paying London-based Hanbury Strategy to work out how to “save the Union” and Michael Gove has been trying to set up a group of Unionist “attack dogs” for the same purpose.
The UK Government has been contacted for comment.