Tory MP blames Mel Gibson for 'driving Scottish independence'

Giles Watling said the union 'could not be broken up on a whim' and said another ballot should not be held until 2039.

A Conservative MP has suggested calls for Scottish independence are being “driven by Mel Gibson” among others.

Giles Watling suggested the star of the 1995 epic Braveheart was partially responsible for plans to host a second vote on the country leaving the union in the space of nine years.

The Scottish Government is currently attempting to secure the right to host a ballot in October next year through the Supreme Court.

Watling, a former actor best-known for the sitcom Bread, said the United Kingdom “could not be broken up on a whim,” adding Holyrood should have to wait 25 years from the date of the last vote to host another.

He added the film, a historically-inaccurate retelling of the story of William Wallace which starred the American actor, was among the main drivers for the Scottish independence movement.

Speaking at Cabinet Office questions in the Commons, he said: “We have fought shoulder to shoulder for freedom and democracy all over the world, not least at Waterloo and the landing beaches of Normandy.

“Does he agree it would be foolish to let this great and successful Union fall apart on a whim, with the aid of the likes of Mel Gibson et cetera?

“Should there not be a legislative timeframe, say 25 years, before another referendum can be held?”

Cabinet Office minister Brendan Clarke-Smith replied: “People across Scotland want both of their Governments to be working together and focusing their attention and resources on the issues that matter to them and not talking about yet another independence referendum.”

The UK Government has continually repeated that the 2014 ballot was “once in a generation”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said in the event the Supreme Court rules against the Scottish Government over the proposed vote next October, then she will treat the next general election as a “de facto” referendum.

The SNP called on new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to “respect the will of the Scottish people” in granting the legal right for a referendum.

The party’s Cabinet Office spokesman Brendan O’Hara said the responsibility had become a “hot potato and something (to) be passed from department to department”.

He added: “My suggestion would be to the new Secretary of State that he uses this new responsibility to encourage the Prime Minister to respect the mandate that the Scottish people gave last year when they elected the pro-independence majority government with a commitment to holding a referendum.

“And would he agree, as my honourable friend has said, that a Prime Minister who was rejected by his own party members, but who was subsequently put into office, unelected by the members behind him, for them to then deny the wishes of the Scottish people in a free and fair election is an absolute disgrace?”

Clarke-Smith replied: “There is still the mandate in Scotland from the independence referendum, we are very firm on that. And we will continue to support that and prioritise for the Scottish people and not to play politics and navel-gazing at this point in time.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code