A second referendum on Scottish independence should not be held until at least 2033, two of the most high-profile candidates to become the next Prime Minister have said.
Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt both said that if they were chosen to replace Boris Johnson as Conservative leader, they would rule out indyref2 for at least a decade.
Their leadership rival Tom Tugendhat, meanwhile, said not enough time had elapsed since 2014’s referendum but refused to say precisely how long he would block another vote.
The SNP and Greens, who have a power-sharing agreement at Holyrood, accused the leadership candidates of “reading from the same anti-democratic playbook”.
None of the candidates in the Tory leadership election are expected to diverge very far from Mr. Johnson’s mantra of “now is not the time” for a second independence vote.
The Supreme Court is due to rule on whether the Scottish Parliament can legislate to hold its own referendum, with a decision likely to be made before Christmas.
Most legal experts expect the Scottish Government to lose the case, with Nicola Sturgeon saying the SNP will then use the 2024 general election as a “de facto” referendum.
This would involve fighting the election campaign on the single issue of independence and trying to win more than 50 percent of votes cast in Scotland, an extremely difficult task.
Asked on the BBC’s Sunday Morning program if he would allow another referendum, Mr Hunt said: “Not in the next 10 years.”
Mr. Javid, responding to the same question, said: “The last one was for a generation and the generation hasn’t changed, so no. Not forever, but not at least for a decade.”
Asked a similar question on the BBC’s Sunday Show later, Mr. Tugendhat said he would not be drawn on “hypotheticals in the future”.
But he added: “What [the Tories] are saying, simply, is you can’t keep asking the same question hoping for a different answer.”
He went on to describe the recent independence push by Ms Sturgeon as a “cheap political play” to distract from the fact she was “failing” on education and the NHS.
Kirsten Oswald, the SNP’s deputy Westminster leader, said the refusal of the Tory leadership candidates to respect its mandate for a referendum was “Trump-like”.
“It’s clear from the very beginning of this leadership campaign that the Tories are reading from the same anti-democratic playbook,” she added.
“The reality is that whoever replaces Boris Johnson, Scotland will still be saddled with a Tory government we didn’t vote for imposing an extreme Brexit, austerity cuts and damaging policies against Scotland’s will.”
Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay added: “Scotland’s future is for the people of Scotland to decide, not Sajid Javid or Jeremy Hunt.
“Millions of people are struggling in a cost of living crisis that has been made much worse by a hard Tory Brexit and years of terrible decisions made in Downing Street.
“Next year’s referendum will be a chance for Scotland to take a different path and to build a fairer, greener and independent future rather than the cuts, austerity and environmental vandalism of the Tories.”