MICHAEL Gove has been accused of “talking nonsense again” after claiming there is no mandate for a second Scottish independence referendum while insisting the Union is one “of consent”.

Following May’s Holyrood election, there are a majority of pro-independence MSPs sitting in the Scottish Parliament – after the SNP and Greens both campaigned on a ticket promising a re-run of the 2014 vote.

That majority has been arguably solidified further after the SNP and Greens formed a power-sharing co-operation deal.

But Mr Gove, the UK Government Minister for Intergovernmental Relations, has claimed there is still no mandate fora referendum in comparison to the situation before the 2014 vote.

Speaking to the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists’ Association, Mr Gove said the UK Government had no intention of drawing up any ground rules that would trigger a second referendum.

He added: “No-one is talking about a referendum anytime soon.

“We’re not out of the woods yet in health terms and we’re certainly not out of the woods yet in economic terms. That’s what we should be concentrating on.

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“I think a focus on the constitution is a distraction from that.”

Pressed over the Scottish Government’s claim that a mandate exists for a second referendum following May’s election, Mr Gove said: “The SNP wanted to win a majority, they hoped to win a majority, some of them said they’d win a majority – they didn’t.

“We had a majority under Alex Salmond (in 2014) and not only a majority, but a consensus across all parties in the Scottish Parliament that there should be a referendum. There is neither majority nor that consensus. I cannot see the demand for it.”

He added: “I just think that there is no evidence that there is an urgent, agitated demand on the part of the Scottish people for independence or for an independence referendum.”

Mr Gove insisted that the UK Government is not “held together by some authoritarian mandate”, adding it is a “Union of consent”.

He added: “It does work on basis of cooperation, burden-sharing and consent.”

The UK Government minister also pointed to research from Lord Ashcroft who found that “40% of those who vote Green are not in favour of independence”, with Mr Gove adding thta many Greens supports were “voting for environmental of other reasons” at May’s election.

The Ashcroft poll, conducted in April during the election campaign, found that 43% of Greens voters who inteded to back the party on the constituency vote were in favour of independence.

But the study used a relatively small sample of Greens voters with less than 100 party supporters asked for their view. 

Scottish Greens MSP, Gillian Mackay, said: “The fact that Michael Gove is talking nonsense again will shock no one.

“71 of the 129 MSPs elected to Holyrood in May stood on a manifesto commitment to hold an independence referendum. That is a majority whatever way you look at it.

“Tory attempts to thwart Scottish democracy are nothing new. They’ve been overcome in the past and I’m confident that will be the case in this instance too, and the people of Scotland will have their say.”

An SNP spokesperson added: "People in Scotland are sick and tired of out of touch Westminster Tories like Michael Gove denying the results of democratic elections here.

"The people of Scotland delivered a cast-iron mandate for a referendum, when a majority of pro-independence parties were elected to the Scottish Parliament in May and all Mr Gove is doing is demonstrating that for him and Boris Johnson the votes and views of people in Scotland don’t matter which will only further increase support for independence.”