Proposing a Scottish independence referendum as the UK seeks to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic is “reckless”, Jacob Rees-Mogg has claimed.

The Commons leader also highlighted “some little local difficulties” in the SNP leadership as another reason to not hold an independence poll.

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On Wednesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave evidence to a Holyrood committee into the Government’s unlawful investigation of her predecessor Alex Salmond.

Former SNP MP Mr Salmond alleges there was a “malicious and concerted” plot against him, although Ms Sturgeon argued there was “not a shred of evidence” to support those claims.

Speaking in the Commons, SNP MP Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) asked: “If the Scottish people or indeed the Welsh people, given the polling in Wales this morning, were to vote for independence at the ballot box, would he respect that choice of the Scottish and indeed the Welsh people?”

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Mr Rees-Mogg, in his reply, said: “There was a referendum, he may have forgotten, in 2014 in Scotland which settled the issue.

“It seems to me it would be reckless in the midst of sorting out a pandemic, getting the economy back on its feet and some little local difficulties going on with the leadership of the Scottish National Party to be proposing a referendum at this point.”

Elections to the Scottish Parliament are scheduled for May 6.