MICHAEL Gove has claimed the Union has been strengthened by 14 years of Conservative rule at Westminster.

The Levelling Up Secretary, in a 2900-word essay for the ConservativeHome website, also claimed the Tories had put “nationalism in retreat in Scotland” as he listed what he claimed were his party’s achievements after more than a decade in power.

Gove’s claims come despite the 2010 Scottish Social Attitudes survey finding support for independence was at 23%, compared to the near 50/50 split in the three polls conducted so far in 2024.

The top Tory's intervention comes on the same day as he gives evidence to the UK Covid Inquiry in Scotland.

Gove, who has been a senior minister in the UK Government almost continuously since 2010, opened his essay by pointing to a speech given by the then-Labour prime minister Gordon Brown to his party conference in late 2009.

Brown had urged Labour members to “look what we’ve achieved together since 1997”, listing milestone achievements such as the Good Friday Agreement, devolution, and the shortest waiting times in NHS history alongside the minimum wage, “record results in schools [and] more students than ever”.

Gove said that “a Tory minister seeking to emulate Brown, at least rhetorically, could tell their party conference” that since 2010 the Tories had delivered on a host of policy areas, including Brexit, a national living wage, and “new nuclear submarines on the way”.

Listing further Conservative “achievements”, he went on: “The Union strengthened, devolution delivered across much of England, nationalism in retreat in Scotland, the fastest vaccine rollout in the world, democracy’s strongest supporter in Ukraine, and that a Labour Government would risk sending all that back to square one.”

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Gove mentioned Scotland at only one other point in his essay, taking aim at the “form of devolution” Labour had brought in north of the Border, claiming it had “delivered a nationalist first minister”.

The top Tory also mentioned the SNP once, saying the party’s “internal crises are playing out across the media”.

Elsewhere, Gove’s essay reads like a handbook for Conservative campaigners with an eye on the General Election expected later in 2024.

Labour have published their "campaigning bible" ahead of the anticipated vote.

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He concludes: “Conservatives have much to be proud of in the last 14 years and we can look with confidence to achieving much more in the years ahead under Rishi Sunak’s leadership.

“Thanks to the tough decisions he has taken, we are reducing inflation, bringing down the deficit, we’ve cut illegal migration and we’re doubling the number of apprenticeships. Our plan is working. Do we really want to go back to square one?”

The SNP’s Cabinet Office spokesperson, Kirsty Blackman MP, said: “14 years of Tory rule has seen Scotland’s economy decimated by a toxic mix of Tory austerity, Brexit, and now Westminster’s cost of living crisis.

“To suggest any of those failures has strengthened the Union is laughable and demonstrably false, with a number of recent polls showing support for independence is rising."

In 2024, there have been three polls on Scottish independence. Two (by Redfield and Wilton and Norstat) have given No a one-point lead over Yes.

A third, conducted by FindOutNow, gave independence a four-point lead.