BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg warns of Cabinet ‘panic’ as Scottish independence support surges

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The BBC Political Editor suggested the latest polls showing growing support for Scotland’s independence have sparked concern among leading members of the Government. At least three surveys on independence carried out over the past three months have shown support has surpassed the 45 percent mark, with one Ipsos Mori poll of 1,045 Scots showing 55 percent of respondents back leaving the UK. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Laura Kuenssberg said: “The private polls for the Unionist side is said to be pretty dreadful, particularly when it comes to the comparison between Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon as leaders.

“That’s one of the reasons why this question is rapidly becoming so pressing.

“The publicly stated position for the UK Government is to say, ‘no, no, no’ to the SNP’s requests for another referendum. If it comes, they have the legal power to do that under the Scotland Act.

“In Government, they are trying to take a more vigorous attitude towards making the case for the Union, there’s an expanded team of people looking at this in Downing Street.

“But I think, to describe it politely, behind closed doors there’s a wide spectrum of debate about what to do, which one Unionist described to me as panic, whether in the Tory Party or the Labour Party, when discussing this issue.”

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Ms Kuenssberg added: “There’s a real sense of oh, it’s really difficult, we have to find better ways of making the argument.

“But no one knows quite what to do.”

Nicola Sturgeon requested permission to hold a second referendum after the SNP secured a majority of Scottish parliamentary seats at the General Election in December.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson however rejected the request and has since reiterated his commitment to keeping the Union together on several occasions.

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The report from Ms Kuenssberg comes after former Prime Minister Sir John Major suggested Scotland and the UK Government could agree to a two-referendum system.

Sir John warned continued refusal to hold a new vote could fuel support for separation and add to the “list of grievances the Scottish National Party exploit with such skill.”

He continued: “The choice for the UK government is either to agree the referendum can take place – or to refuse to permit it. Both options come with great risk.

“The Westminster government could agree for an independence referendum to take place, on the basis of two referenda.

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Sir John continued: “The first to vote upon the principle of negotiations and the second upon the outcome of them.

“The purpose of the second referendum would be that Scottish electors would know what they were voting for, and be able to compare it to what they now have.

“This did not happen with Brexit: had it done so, there may have been no Brexit.

“Many Scottish voices – and especially business – may support the logic of this: it may focus minds away from a short-term reflex opposition to a perceived English government, and back to the mutual and long-term virtues of the Union.”

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