THE UK Government has brushed aside Nicola Sturgeon’s bid to hold a second independence referendum with the Queen’s Speech stressing that the integrity and prosperity of the Union are of the “utmost importance” to Boris Johnson’s administration.

On the eve of her keynote speech to the SNP conference in Aberdeen, Downing St made clear its refusal to accede to the First Minister’s request; expected by the end of the year.

In setting out the Government’s programme, Her Majesty made a single reference to the 312-year-old constitutional arrangement between Scotland and England, saying: “The integrity and prosperity of the Union that binds the four nations of the United Kingdom together is of the utmost importance to my Government.

“My ministers will bring forward measures to support citizens across all the nations of the United Kingdom.”

At the weekend, Ms Sturgeon declared that Scotland was “closer to independence than ever before,” saying she would request another independence referendum from the Prime Minister in “a matter of weeks”; in parliamentary terms, this would be to seek a Section 30 Order. She has previously stated that she could hold a referendum in the second half of 2020.

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Noting how one opinion poll had put support for independence at 50 per cent, the SNP leader said: “I am putting legislation through the Scottish Parliament right now to put the rules and regulations in place. I’ve said as recently as a few weeks ago that as legislation progresses, we will make request for a Section 30 Order. We see rising support for independence.”

But the UK Government made clear that it was “absolutely committed to upholding the result of Scotland’s once-in-a-generation independence referendum. The people of Scotland voted decisively to remain part of the United Kingdom and we will respect this”.

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Noting how the 2016 Scotland Act had devolved a raft of powers to Holyrood, making it one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world, it said: “There is a good balance of powers between the Westminster and Scottish Parliaments and devolution is working well.

“We have been clear that we expect that the return of powers from the EU[post Brexit] to lead to a significant increase in the decision-making powers of the Scottish Parliament.”

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When Downing St was asked about the FM’s intention to seek the power from Westminster to hold another independence poll, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “No change to the position of the UK Government. The PM has set out his views in relation to the holding of an independence referendum in Scotland. The last one was described as a once-in-a-generation event.”

The Conservative Government insisted it “continued to deliver for people in Scotland, noting such matters as:

*investing in Scotland’s economy, delivering jobs, opportunities and sustainable growth, including ploughing £1.4 billion into city and growth deals north of the border;

*maintaining the Union “dividend,” which is worth nearly £2,000 a year per person in Scotland in terms of extra public spending;

*the recent announcement that Babcock was the preferred bidder for a £1.25bn contract to build five new Type 31 frigates for the Royal Navy, securing hundreds of jobs in Fife;

*a “cash bonus” of £1.2bn as a result of increased spending in England through the so-called Barnett Formula;

*£221 million boost to Scottish farmers to resolve the “historic funding gap” and

*Glasgow will host the climate change conference known as COP26 next year, which will generate millions of pounds in revenue for the local economy.