A FORMER Downing Street chief of staff has said that the “democratic mandate” for a second referendum on Scottish independence is “clear”.

The UK Government has repeatedly denied appeals for a re-run of the 2014 poll, despite a majority of pro-indy MSPs elected to Holyrood at May’s election.

But Gavin Barwell, former Tory MP and chief of staff to former prime minister Theresa May, has warned his party that the justification is there for a referendum.

In his book, Chief Of Staff: Notes From Downing Street, the Conservative peer said that the UK Government is “on strong ground” arguing that the time is not right for a referendum, given the recovery from the pandemic.

But he adds: “The democratic mandate for the question to be asked again at some point is clear.”

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said: “The democratic mandate for an independence referendum is cast-iron and crystal clear – something that even Theresa May’s former chief of staff has now admitted he agrees with.

"The Tory government's democracy-denying stance is unsustainable.

“Gavin Barwell’s admission may be uncomfortable for his fellow Tories, but it simply underlines the fact that, whatever their bluster, they know a referendum is coming."