MICHAEL Gove has brushed aside the notion of a second Scottish independence referendum as he launched his bid to be the next prime minister, saying he wanted to create a “new Union” between Scotland and England.

READ MORE: Justice Secretary Michael Gove declares himself 'candidate for change' in pitch to be next Tory leader and PM

The Justice Secretary drew on his Scottish background and insisted he would be a prime minister who “understands and believes in Scotland”.

He said the Brexit vote had given the country the chance to “renew and reboot the Union,” noting how it would be taking back control of policy areas over such things as agriculture and fishing, which Holyrood would have power over.

“We need to explore how we can develop a fairly-funded, flexible and robust Union for our new circumstances and I will work across political divides with respect to build that new Union.”

Stressing how he was Scottish and British, Mr Gove said: “When I talk about the Union, I speak as someone born in Edinburgh, brought up in Aberdeen. I am someone for whom the Union is not a constitutional abstraction, it’s who I am.”

READ MORE: Justice Secretary Michael Gove declares himself 'candidate for change' in pitch to be next Tory leader and PM

The Secretary of State admitted the EU referendum had led to questions about how the four parts of the UK stayed together.

“For me, in every sense, this is about family,” he declared, noting how his parents still lived in Scotland, his children lived in London and his wife hailed from Wales.

“In a family you listen, you treat each other with respect, you work together to make things better together. And that is what I will do; treating Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with respect.”

READ MORE: Justice Secretary Michael Gove declares himself 'candidate for change' in pitch to be next Tory leader and PM

Asked if he had concerns for the Union given that the Scottish Government was now drawing up legislation to facilitate a second independence poll, which Nicola Sturgeon says is now “highly likely,” the Surrey MP said: “Look, we have to be realistic about it. Scotland voted differently to the rest of the United Kingdom on the referendum and that raises profound questions.”

Mr Gove stressed how the UK Government needed to listen respectfully to Scottish public opinion, not just the SNP but also Scottish public opinion in business and civil society.

“I don’t want to take any precipitative steps. The First Minister has an absolute constitutional right to do as she thinks is appropriate in these circumstances.”

He then declared: “If you want a prime minister who understands and believes in Scotland, indeed, someone who has, I have to confess, personal friends in the SNP, I can do that. I can do it because the one thing I will want to do is to make the United Kingdom work and I will treat with respect those people who have got a mandate in Scotland, after all, they are people who are representing my mum and dad, so I want to make this Union work for all of us.”

But he was later asked if Holyrood voted for a second independence referendum would he as PM block it. “I don’t think we are going to have a second independence referendum,” the Secretary of State insisted.

At his leadership launch, Mr Gove presented himself as the “change candidate,” saying the challenges facing Britain required "not just a cool head but a heart burning with the desire for change...not business as usual but a bold vision".

He made clear the country last week had voted for no more politics as usual. “We cannot meet this historic moment with timidity and caution. We need to press ahead with social and economic reform to build a better, stronger Britain ready for all the opportunities ahead.”

But as he laid out his candidacy, colleagues in the UK Government were contacting his camp to urge him to stand down so that the party could unite behind Theresa May, who is now the favourite and has already gained the endorsement of more than 70 MPs, including several cabinet ministers.

Earlier, veteran former chancellor Ken Clarke said: “I do think Michael Gove would do us all a favour if he were to stand down now."

At his launch, the Secretary of State dismissed claims that his decision to stand and so cause his fellow Brexiter Boris Johnson to stand aside was all carefully planned, saying there was “no calculation” and that he had always acted out of principle and conviction.

Addressing his previous repeated insistences that he did not want to be prime minister and felt he was not up to the job, he explained: “I was so very reluctant because I know my limitations. Whatever charisma is I don’t have it. Whatever glamour may be I don’t think anyone could ever associate me with it.”

But he explained he had, at every step of his political career, asked himself one question: what was the right thing to do. He admitted campaigning for Leave was not an easy choice as it lead him to parting company with his friend David Cameron. “It was a wrench,” he declared.

Mr Gove also said that while Mr Johnson had formidable talents, uniting and leading the country was not one of them.

The 48-year-old cabinet minister made clear that he would deliver on the commitments given in the EU referendum, so he would end free movement of people and “bring numbers down” on immigration but he gave no target date or number. He also promised to dedicate £100 million a week of the “Brexit dividend” to the NHS.

The Justice Secretary also made clear that the next PM had to be on the winning side of the EU argument ie not Mrs May. “Put simply: the best person to lead Britain out of the EU is someone who argued to get Britain out of the EU.”

He emphasised how he would wait at least until 2017 to kick off the two-year process of negotiating the UK's withdrawal from the EU by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Despite the agreement of the remaining 27 EU states earlier this week that they would not negotiate until they received formal notification of Britain's intention to leave, Mr Gove said he expected to hold "extensive preliminary talks" before taking that step.

"I will only trigger it after extensive preliminary talks…so I have no expectation that Article 50 would be triggered in this calendar year," he said.