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Scotland will vote to leave EU, claims Michael Gove

Tory Justice Secretary predicts a majority of Scots will vote to leave the European Union.

Scotland to Leave: Gove predicts Scottish voters will opt out of EU membership.
Scotland to Leave: Gove predicts Scottish voters will opt out of EU membership. Ken McKay/ITV

Voters in Scotland will elect to leave the European Union, leading Brexit campaigner Michael Gove has said.

Gove, the UK justice secretary and co-convener of Vote Leave, made the claims on the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

The Tory minister rejected suggestions Scotland was less Eurosceptic than voters in the rest of the UK, arguing that Scots would "vote to leave as well".

He also said a vote to leave the EU would not lead to the break-up of the UK.

Gove said: "When we vote to leave I think a majority of people in Scotland will also vote to leave as well.

"And I think when we vote to leave it will be clear that having voted to leave one union, the last thing the people of Scotland will want to do is to break up another.

"The economic basis on which Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish nationalists made the case for separation was based on an oil price much higher than it is at the moment so there will be no case for it."

On the UK, he added: "If we vote to leave then I think the union will be stronger."

But the justice secretary also made a factual error in his Marr appearance when he claimed there had been no SNP MPs until after Britain joined the European Union.

Gove said: "Scottish nationalism has grown since we entered the European Union.

"There wasn't a Scottish nationalist MP elected at any general election when we were outside the EU."

The Western Isles elected Donald Stewart from the SNP as its MP in the 1970 General Election - but Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath would not take the UK into the European Economic Community (EEC) until 1973.

The SNP said a UK-wide Leave vote would bolster support for independence.

The party's leader in the House of Commons Angus Robertson said: "If we're taken out of the EU against our will, that's a material change of circumstances.

"Voters in Scotland were told to vote against independence as a way of staying in the EU, and should it come about that we are taken out whilst voting to stay in that will make a whole load of people think: 'Well, the game's a bogey.'"

Speaking on Sky's Murnaghan programme, Robertson said he did not want a new independence referendum forced to come about by Britain leaving the EU but "on its own merits" when the time was right.

Referring to continued austerity and Tory governments, Robertson added: "I think the time will come when the people of Scotland will say: 'I think we've had enough of this.'"

The Remain campaign in Scotland said polls were "encouraging".

A Scotland Stronger in Europe spokesperson said: "Both sides in the independence referendum stressed the importance of staying in Europe, and we are working hard to build unity and the strongest possible vote in Scotland for Remain.

"The polls are encouraging and we take nothing for granted, but by coming together Scotland could play a decisive role in helping to deliver a UK-wide vote to stay in the EU."

The Scottish Vote Leave campaign said they were "confident" Scots can be convinced.

A spokesperson said: "With UK wide opinion polls looking too close to call, every single vote cast in Scotland could swing the result. 

"We're confident that when the Scottish arguments are heard - that we can have more powers for the Scottish Parliament, we can have £1.5bn extra a year to spend on public services like the NHS, and we can safeguard free tuition for young Scots - people across Scotland will vote Leave."

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