Express.co.uk understands work on a draft independence bill is taking place and accelerating at speed ahead of the election period from March 25th. An SNP source, told this publication: “We are ramping up the speed to deliver our pledge for a second Scottish independence vote.”
The draft Bill was promised in the legislative programme First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out last year.
Last month, the SNP also released an 11-point “roadmap” to an independence referendum – setting out that a ballot could take place if May’s Holyrood elections result in a pro-independence majority, even if Westminster refuses to grant a Section 30 order.
This could see the party force the UK Government into a legal challenge, if a Section 30 order is not granted.
21 polls have shown support for Scottish independence since January 2021 but rising tensions within the party over Alex Salmond and the independence approach have threatened this support.
Yesterday, Michael Russell, Scotland’s Constitution Secretary, warned “a very serious set of circumstances” would arise in the next session of Parliament on the future of the Union and devolution.
Speaking at Holyrood’s Constitution Committee, Mr Russell stated that Scots need to decide between “a constant diminution and undermining of devolution” or independence.
But Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said he certainly didn’t want a second referendum.
He said: “I didn’t want to have a divisive referendum in 2014 but clearly there was a process that allowed that. A legitimate, legal process.
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No 10 sources told Express.co.uk Mr Johnson was “strongly considering” a future replacement which “upholds British values.”
Despite Mr Lewis’s departure, however, Boris Johnson’s Press Secretary Allegra Stratton said the PM’s relationship with Scotland was “working well”.
She added: “The relationship between the Westminster government in Scotland and the Scottish people is working very well at the moment.”
Mr Johnson is also due to visit Scotland before the election and a trip to the Shetland Isles could be on the cards.
Steven Coutts, the leader of the Shetland Islands Council sent letters to Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon in a bid to discuss further self-determination of the isles last year.
Mr Coutts recently oversaw a vote where island councillors voted 18 to two in favour of a motion to formally explore options “for achieving financial and political self-determination” from Scotland.
Mr Johnson personally responded to the letter and said the UK Government is “keen to see power sit at the most appropriate level” including local government.
Mr Johnson added in his letter: “We take seriously the commitments made as part of the Smith Commission to further devolve power from Holyrood to communities across Scotland.”
He also stated that he would be keen to visit Shetland this year.
A No 10 source added: “Any visits made by Government ministers to Scotland will be announced in due course.”