A British government spokesman has warned against the ramifications of a likely Scottish independence referendum as an unnecessary divisive measure.
The remarks came against the backdrop of media reports that Scottish nationalists are bracing for another independence referendum, possibly at the same time when the British government plans to formally trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to start formal negotiations on leaving the European Union.
“The question is not whether there could be a second referendum, it is whether there should be one - and the clear answer to that is no,” the spokesman said on Monday.
“The threat of one is creating unnecessary uncertainty and division,” he added.
“The decision to remain in the UK was made by the Scottish people in 2014 and all the evidence at the moment shows people in Scotland do not want another referendum,” the spokesman said.
In a 2014 referendum, 55 percent of Scots voted against independence, but the discussions about the issue gained steam again following the Brexit vote in June 2016.
While England and Wales voted to leave the EU, 62 percent of Scottish voters cast their ballots in favor of staying inside the bloc.
According to The Times newspaper, the British government is preparing itself for Scotland’s likely referendum plans.
Moreover, informed sources told Reuters last week that the semi-autonomous Scottish government, run by the pro-independence Scottish National Party, is increasingly confident about the prospect of winning a second independence referendum.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has urged the Scottish voters to use the upcoming council elections to make it clear to the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that they do not favor a second independence referendum.
Senior sources at the British Conservative Party have warned that blocking another referendum will prompt a massive public backlash in Scotland and garner more support for an independence vote.
On Wednesday, British Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said that Scotland would leave the EU, whether or not it becomes an independent state.
In response to Mundell’s comments, a Scottish government spokesperson said, "Scotland faces being dragged out of Europe against its will by a Tory (Conservative) government with just one MP out of 59 in Scotland, but that MP – David Mundell – seems totally oblivious to the irony of him seeking to lay down the law on what should happen next."
Prime Minister May has promised to begin the Brexit process in March and complete it by 2019. The EU has warned that Britain would have less than 18 months to reach a deal to exit the bloc once Brexit negotiations begin.