THERESA May has slapped down Nicola Sturgeon, insisting Scots have "no appetite" for a second independence referendum as Michael Gove claimed the Union was now "stronger than ever".

But as the First Minister prepares for the publication of the SNP's Growth Commission report on the economic case for independence, expected this Friday, Ruth Davidson warned fellow Unionists about the “dangers of complacency” and said that what the country needed now, having had more devolution, was "more Union".

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon reignites independence debate ahead of new SNP blueprint

At the weekend, Ms Sturgeon said the commission’s report would "restart the debate" on Scotland’s future but it is thought that her decision on whether or not to call for so-called indyref2 will only be made once the UK Government’s Brexit deal with the EU becomes clearer in the autumn.

Asked about the FM’s remarks, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “Now is not the time for another divisive independence referendum and there is no appetite for one. The people of Scotland voted decisively in 2014 to remain part of the United Kingdom and that should be respected.”

Asked why Mrs May thought there was no appetite for indyref2, he replied: “That is the view of the PM and the Scotland Office.” Asked again, the spokesman added: “That is the Government’s assessment.”

At a conference on the Union in London, organised by the Policy Exchange think-tank, Ms Davidson, asked about a second vote, replied: “My advice to the PM is: if the question’s the same, the answer should be the same. No.”

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Mr Gove also commented on indyref2, saying the SNP would find “any excuse” to seek another independence poll; if it was not because of Brexit, it would be something else, he suggested.

But asked if he thought there might be another vote on Scotland’s future, the Environment Secretary replied: “I don’t think there is support for a second referendum at all…I would bet against it.”

Alistair Darling, the former Labour Chancellor, went further and told the conference: “I do not believe there will be another Scottish referendum in the foreseeable future; possibly not in my lifetime.

“I’ll tell you why not…the public don’t want it. Most of the British public, never mind the Scottish public, are heartily sick of referendums. They divide, they turn people against each other; the scars are deep; they’re still there in Scotland and people don’t want to go through that again.”

In his speech, Mr Gove accused the Nationalists of being driven by “identity politics”.

The Environment Secretary explained: “The identitarians want to move away from liberal principles and equal treatment for all, colour blindness, and respect for individual rights; instead, they embrace a politics, which divides society to contending groups and demands people define themselves by their group membership rather than as autonomous individuals.”

He accused the SNP of conflating progressive politics with a “superior virtue, that, apparently, can only really come from living north of the border”.

Asked if a bad Brexit deal would threaten the Union, the Secretary of State added the reason Ms Sturgeon was reopening the independence question was because it was the SNP’s “eternal desire to try to create friction in the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK”.

Later at the conference, Ms Davidson argued the FM and her colleagues had swept aside questions about tackling falling school standards and missed health targets in favour of a “renewed enthusiasm for an old project”.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon reignites independence debate ahead of new SNP blueprint

But the Scottish Conservative leader warned: “For all that independence seems to have lost momentum and may feel like yesterday’s battle, it is still real and present. The Union continues to be under threat. Those of us who want to protect it should not, therefore, downplay the challenge we face.”

Ms Davidson, who will attend the Political Cabinet alongside her Conservative colleagues in Downing Street this morning, said what she loved about the Union was its “flexible messiness” but suggested what Scotland and other parts of the UK needed now was not just more devolution but also “more show that all parts of the UK are just that; part and parcel of our great Union of nations”.

The SNP, which was not represented at the conference, accused Ms Davidson of having “her head in the sand” over what it and other parties believe is a power-grab Brexit Bill.

“At every opportunity she has let her Westminster bosses call the shots as they try to force through the most damaging Brexit possible against Scotland’s democratic will,” insisted Kirsty Blackman, the party’s deputy leader at Westminster.