The UK PM David Cameron has surprised party members in Scotland by appearing to call for a referendum on Scottish independence.
Mr Cameron was speaking to an audience of Scottish Conservatives at the party’s conference in Birmingham when he challenged the SNP to call an independence referendum saying that he was prepared to campaign in such a referendum should one be called.
Speaking about the independence referendum Mr Cameron said: “I will be on that campaign if they ever have the courage to call that referendum on the future of the United Kingdom but it doesn’t look like they do right now does it.”
However the calls from the Tory leader appear to be at odds with comments from junior Scotland Office Minister and fellow Conservative David Mundell who stated on Sunday that that the party would continue to block any attempts for a referendum to be held.
Speaking on The Politics Show Scotland Mr Mundell said:
“…we do not support the holding of a referendum on independence in Scotland because we don’t believe that’s the wish of the people of Scotland or it’s something that we’d promote.”
The calls from David Cameron are similar to those from former Labour group leader Wendy Alexander who famously challenged the SNP to “bring it on”. Labour recently changed their stance from supporting a referendum to opposing, arguing that the ‘time was not right’.
All polls asking whether a referendum on Scottish independence should be held have shown a clear majority of Scots in favour of such a move. Unionist parties have been criticised for opposing a referendum in Scotland whilst simultaneously supporting a referendum for the Welsh Assembly.
The SNP recently decided not to put their independence bill to a vote at Holyrood after Labour joined with the Tories and the Liberal Democrats and declared that they would block any such plans. The calls from the Tory leader has now created confusion over whether or not Annabelle Goldie’s Holyrood Conservative group will continue to oppose a referendum.
The PM’s comments, coming weeks before the coalition Government announce the extent of the cuts to the Scottish grant, are certain to ensure that Scotland’s constitutional future will be at the heart of next years Scottish elections.