A LEAKED Tory memo has warned Boris Johnson can’t keep rejecting demands for a second Scottish independence referendum as support in the polls surge.
The document by Conservative political consultants laid bare the challenge the PM has to keep calls for another vote at bay – less than 10 years after the “once in a generation” ballot.
The memo, seen by Bloomberg, was sent to a tight circle of people, including Cabinet minister Michael Gove.
It says: “If the SNP builds on this momentum then the endpoint could be a full-blown constitutional crisis or a second independence referendum.
“Either of these outcomes would consume significant political capital for the government.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has claimed an SNP majority at the Holyrood elections next May would give her the mandate for another referendum.
Simply swatting away and rejecting demands for a referendum could be “counterproductive”, it said.
It went on to warn: “Put simply, there are not enough Leave voters to convert to the ‘No’ side to make up for the movement of Remain voters into the ‘Yes’ camp.”
The document war gamed a potential Tory response to try and fend off another bid for Scottish independence.
It suggests ministers should focus on ripping up the SNP’s record in leadership, and make them “pay the price” for clawing power away from Westminster.
It suggests launching a “a hard-hitting, attack-focused” campaign against Nicola Sturgeon to sway Scots.
The firm proposed appeasing Independence campaigners by giving Scotland more power and turning up the pressure on Ms Sturgeon to ditch Scottish efforts to rejoin the European Union after Brexit.
It was written by politico firm Hanbury who declined to comment on the document.
Former director of strategy for David Cameron Ameet Gill and communications director for the pro-Brexit Vote Leave group Paul Stephenson helped pen the 21-page memo.
HIGHEST EVER SUPPORT
Support for independence has surged as Ms Sturgeon took the reins of the coronavirus crisis in Scotland, appearing at a daily briefing to mimic Boris Johnson’s.
The pro-independence campaigners lost the 2014 referendum with 45 per cent voting to leave and 55 per cent voting to stay.
But a poll by Ipsos Mori last week pegged support had soared to 58 per cent – the highest ever level.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford regularly attempts to for the PM to cave to demands for a fresh referendum, but Mr Johnson has stayed firm saying it was a “once in a generation” vote.
One source familiar with the memo said the political group was helping work on the issue.
The study was not commissioned by the Government.
The SNP’s deputy Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald claims the memo shoes the Government is in “panic mode”,
She said: “This leaked memo reveals that the Tories are in panic mode because people in Scotland know Boris Johnson’s government can’t be trusted to act in Scotland’s interests.
“The whole Westminster system is broken and it is time decisions about Scotland were taken by the people who live here.
“The Tory attempt to deny the right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future is completely unsustainable and undemocratic.
“Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.”