SCOTLAND should be given the power to hold a second referendum if a pro-independence majority wins the next Holyrood election, David Mundell has indicated. 

The former Scottish secretary said Downing Street would have to listen if the Scottish Parliament election in 2021 is “explicitly” fought on the issue. 

He made the comments as he confirmed he would not vote down a Conservative Government to prevent a no-deal Brexit, despite raising concerns it could threaten the future of the UK.

Mr Mundell was speaking at a Fringe by the Sea event in North Berwick, where he was being interviewed by the journalist Katy Balls. 

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He said: “I think if the 2021 Scottish Parliament election is fought explicitly on the issue of another referendum, and then there is a majority of nationalist parties, then evidently you do have to listen to that.

“The 2016 Scottish Parliament election wasn’t fought on that basis – it was sort of a subset of the SNP manifesto. 

HeraldScotland: Former Scottish Secretary David Mundell in conversation with journalist Katy Bow.Former Scottish Secretary David Mundell in conversation with journalist Katy Bow.

“In my view the wording they put there was deliberately ambiguous, so as to allow them to not major on independence but then claim they had a mandate for independence. 

“But if the 2021 Scottish Parliament election is fought on an explicit independence referendum basis, then it’s harder to push back against the idea that there is a mandate.” 

Mr Mundell has previously said the Holyrood poll is shaping up to be a “referendum on a referendum”. 

He indicated Unionist candidates should form tactical alliances to beat pro-independence parties.

He said: “I think as we head into the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, which will ultimately be a referendum on whether there’s another referendum, then all Unionist forces have to think about how they best organise themselves for that election.”

It comes just days after a poll showed support for independence has risen to 52 per cent, with 48% against.

Mr Mundell, who was sacked by Boris Johnson last month as part of his brutal cabinet reshuffle, has repeatedly warned about the dangers of a no-deal Brexit. 

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But asked if would accept crashing out of the EU without a deal, he said: “I think that we have to have a Brexit rather than no Brexit. 

“So I’m clear that that is an important principle. It’s honouring the 2016 referendum. 

“I would never myself vote against a Conservative Government in a vote of no confidence. 

“I think as a Conservative MP, that is not something that you can ever reasonably do.”

Mr Mundell said an early general election is a “reasonable possibility” this autumn, and confirmed he is already preparing to fight it. 

He insisted it is “vitally important” that the government delivers Brexit, adding: “I take Mr Johnson at his word, that he wants to get some form of deal, because that is by far the best basis on which we can leave the EU. 

“And I would far rather see us having an election on the basis of having delivered Brexit and having left the EU.”

Elsewhere, he urged Mr Johnson to listen to the advice of Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson

He said: “My advice for him is clear: he needs to listen to what she says. 

“She has the electoral track record in Scotland, in terms of delivering additional MSPs, additional MPs, additional councillors, of being in tune with Scottish public opinion. That’s the message.”

Ms Davidson reportedly tried and failed to persuade Mr Johnson to keep Mr Mundell – a close ally and friend – as Scottish secretary.

Speaking in North Berwick, Mr Mundell said he had given the new Prime Minister newspaper cuttings showing the negative reaction to his election in Scotland.

He said: "I think it is very important to understand the scale of the task and the challenging political environment that Scotland is."

His comments on independence came after Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell insisted a Labour government would not block a second referendum.

An SNP spokesman said: "The Scottish Government has a crystal clear mandate to give people a choice over their future.

"A majority of Scots now support independence with most in favour of a vote before 2021."

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