The defence secretary, Michael Fallon, has infuriated SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon by suggesting that the UK government could block a second Scottish independence referendum. Michael Fallon told The Herald that 'the UK government will not give Holyrood the power to hold a second referendum.

'Respect works both ways'

Fallon informed the newspaper that: 'Sturgeon is constantly demanding that Westminster respects the SNP, but she continues to disrespect Scotland's decision to remain within the United Kingdom in 2014. Respect works two ways'. Despite Fallon's statement, circumstances have altered considerably following Brexit.

In the aftermath of the 2014 referendum, the UK government promised Scotland a second referendum if 'circumstances altered'.

The defence secretary went on to suggest that Sturgeon was bluffing about a snap referendum, citing that she doesn't have the majority support to leave the United Kingdom. Fallon softened his stance BBC Radio Scotland, urging Sturgeon to 'forget about the referendum and get on with the day job. We don't see the need for a second referendum'. Opinion polls illustrate that the majority of Scottish voters don't desire a snap independence referendum. Support for leaving the United Kingdom in Scotland is currently at around 45 per cent.

Risky comments from Fallon

Fallon's comments run the risk of fuelling Conservative Party resentment in Scotland.

The notion of a Theresa May hard Brexit has already been used by Sturgeon to rally support for the SNP. On Monday, Nicola Sturgeon stated that she could call a snap referendum as early as next month due to Prime Minister Theresa May's unwillingness to engage with the SNP on key issues pertaining to Brexit.

Nicola Sturgeon said: 'Over the next few weeks, we will find out if Theresa May's government's words have any meaning.

In the next month, we will be able to see how much Scotland will be consulted on Brexit. Although the next few weeks will not resolve all Brexit issues, we will see if Scotland's voice will be listened to'.