Senior UK Government figures are considering introducing legislation which would require more than half of the Scottish electorate to vote for independence, rather than just a majority, according to reports.
According to the Sunday Times, ministers are seeking to bring in new barriers to block independence if the Supreme Court determines that a referendum without the consent of the UK Government is unlawful.
Under the proposal, evidence would be required for more than a year that at least 60% of voters in Scotland want a new referendum to take place before the UK Government would consider it, the Times indicates.
Then, if ministers agreed to allow a vote to go ahead, at least 50% of all of Scotland’s electorate would be required to vote to leave the union before the change would be passed.
The changes would be made by introducing a new referendum act at Westminster.
The Scottish Government has set out its intention to hold another vote on independence on October 19 2023.
However, the UK Government has argued that the Scottish Parliament has “no right” to hold another vote.
The Supreme Court will consider the case on October 11 and October 12.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has indicated that a general election would act as a “de-facto referendum” in the event that the Supreme Court challenge is denied.
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, one of whom will be named as the new prime minister on Monday, have both stated their opposition to allowing another vote to take place.
A senior government ally of Truss was quoted in the Sunday Times in defending the plans to introduce the new legislation.
“After all, the SNP said after the 2014 referendum that they would not seek another one until polls consistently showed more than 60% of the public would vote to leave the UK,” they said.
“In order to achieve independence it would not be unreasonable for the Yes side to demonstrate that it was the settled will of the Scottish people like in the 1997 devolution referendum where there was a three to one majority in the favour of a Scottish Parliament.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon responded: “Only those who fear losing feel the need to change the democratic goalposts.
“This desperate suggestion is proof positive that the independence arguments are winning.”