Defence Secretary Michael Fallon did not clarify whether the Conservatives would block IndyRef2
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon had initially said his party would not grant First Minister Nicola Sturgeon the power to hold another independence ballot, as he instead urged her to "get to grips" with problems in Scotland's schools, health service and economy.
When asked if the UK Government would facilitate another referendum in this Parliament, Sir Michael told the Herald newspaper: "No, forget it. The respect agenda is two-way.
"[The First Minister] is constantly asking us to respect the SNP Government but she has to respect the decision of Scotland to stay inside the UK in 2014 and the decision of the UK to leave the EU. Respect works two ways."
There's no need for another referendum at the moment
Miss Sturgeon accused him of "backpedalling" on the issue when he later refused to say if Westminster would block a second independence referendum.
On a visit to naval engineering firm MacTaggart Scott in Loanhead, Midlothian, he said talk of a referendum is "irrelevant" and accused the First Minister of trying to "divert us from her failure".
Pressed if the UK Government would block a second independence referendum, he said: "I think the Scottish Government should focus on what it was elected to do and that's jobs, school standards, problems in the health service, that's what people should be focusing on rather than theoretical talk about a referendum.
Nicola Sturgeon accused the Defence Secretary of 'backpeddling'
"I've made it very clear that there's no need for another referendum at the moment. There's plenty for the Scottish Government to do, to be backing successful companies like this, to be sorting out problems in the Scottish health service, to be dealing with falling school standards.
"Nicola Sturgeon is trying to distract us all from the problems she's having in getting to grips with what she was elected to do, which is to deal with the Scottish economy. Why is unemployment still growing in Scotland and still falling in England?
"All this talk of a referendum, she is trying to divert us from her failure to grip the issues she should be dealing with, she needs to get back to the day job."
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Fri, December 9, 2016
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Sir Michael stated that Miss Sturgeon was using the referendum to distract from other problems
Miss Sturgeon tweeted "serious backpeddling", adding "must have realised what a disastrous move it would be for Tories".
A spokesman for the First Minister added: "Any Tory bid to block a referendum would be a democratic outrage, but would only succeed in boosting support for both a referendum and for independence itself – something which the Prime Minister has previously indicated she understands all too well.
"Our mandate is unequivocal, with a manifesto commitment which makes explicitly clear that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to decide on an independence referendum if Scotland faces being taken out of the EU against our will. And no Tory Westminster Government has a right to stand in the way of that."