Downing Street has criticised claims by Nicola Sturgeon that the case for independence “transcends” arguments about Brexit, oil and the economy.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May rebuked the First Minister for suggesting issues facing Scotland were “passing fads”.
Ms Sturgeon has drawn criticism for saying “the case for full self-government ultimately transcends the issues of Brexit, of oil, of national wealth and balance sheets and of passing political fads and trends.”
“I’m not sure you would describe Brexit, oil and the economy as ‘passing fads’,” the Number 10 spokesman said. “These are fundamental issues about what Britain is and what it is dealing with.”
Former Chancellor Alistair Darling yesterday rubbished the prospect of another Scottish independence referendum taking place within two years, and said Ms Sturgeon’s career would be “finished” if she lost a second vote.
The leader of the Better Together campaign in the 2014 referendum said the First Minister was in “no hurry” to rush into another vote and was simply “throwing red meat” to her supporters by suggesting one could be imminent.
“I don’t think it will happen any time soon at all,” Lord Darling said on BBC Radio Scotland. “Nothing has changed since 2014... in that roughly speaking 45% of the population would vote for independence, 55% would vote against it.
“That’s where we are and Nicola Sturgeon is not going to risk everything, her reputation - she has seen what has happened to David Cameron, who the only thing people will remember about him I suspect when history is written in years to come is that he accidentally got us out of the EU and he didn’t want it.
“If she loses, she knows she would be finished. That’s why she is in no hurry to rush into it.”
MPs from Ms Sturgeon’s party have reportedly called on her not to rush a second referendum, warning that a vote should not be called until it can be won. The latest polling shows 46% of Scots oppose a referendum in the next few years. “It’s unlikely we’ll get what we want from the Brexit process but we have to build a solid economic case for independence among those who voted No in 2014,” an unnamed SNP MP was quoted as saying. “That looks like a second referendum after 2020.”