SIR Michael Fallon is not the Secretary of State for Defence for nothing.

After telling this newspaper that, when it comes to wanting a second punt at independence Nicola Sturgeon can “forget it,” the Perth-born politician turned up on Good Morning Scotland and deployed manoeuvres worthy of a four-star general.

Time and again, he refused to go back into the subject of blocking indyref2, insisting the whole thing was a distraction cooked up by the First Minister to divert people away from where the focus should be: her failures in government.

No 10, while confirming Sir Michael’s views were “consistent” with Theresa May’s approach, also sought to deflect reporters away from the central issue and onto how the two governments should be working together to get the best deal on Brexit.

Nationalist high command was clear, despite the Secretary of State’s view to the contrary, the SNP Government’s mandate to hold indyref2 was “unequivocal”; any plan to block it would be a “democratic outrage” and only bolster the independence cause.

But within Whitehall, eyes roll at the very thought of indyref2.

Last year, this newspaper ran a story, based on well-informed sources, that the PM was mulling over whether to agree “in principle” to give a Section 30 Order but introduce a condition, a “sunrise clause,” to ensure another vote on Scotland’s future could not happen while the complex Brexit negotiations were going on.

The argument being: the talks on divorce from Brussels would be hard enough without having to fight simultaneously a battle to save the Union; and then, if there were a Yes vote, to negotiate parallel divorce proceedings with Edinburgh.

So it seems – and other sources have confirmed this position privately – Mrs May is determined that there will be no second independence referendum this parliament; no matter how loud Ms Sturgeon complains.

Indeed, even if the PM were to decide to grant a Section 30 Order, one could ask how it ever get through Westminster, given, north of the border, all the Unionist parties are opposed to having another referendum.

But, given that the intergovernmental Brexit talks are not going well, and the odds of the Scottish Government getting a neatly packaged differentiated deal to ensure Scotland remains in the European Single Market, then Battle for Britain II seems certain.