Tory ministers have been ordered to shut up about Scottish independence for fear they are making the situation worse and playing into Nicola Sturgeon's hands.
A private edict says they should not engage with SNP arguments or even make a positive case for the union because it makes Westminster seem 'needy'.
Instead they want to turn the focus onto Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP's record in power, with the party facing crisis over the NHS and drugs deaths.
A Conservatives source told the Times today that it would be 'very hard' to win a new independence referendum at the moment and the debate should be 'shut down' to spill the win from the pro-independence movement's sails.
A private edict says Boris Johnson's ministers should not engage with SNP arguments or even make a positive case for the union because it makes Westminster seem 'needy'
Ms Sturgeon said this month she wants to hold a re-run of the 2014 referendum 'Covid permitting, by the end of 2023'
'Sturgeon would present it as a chance for Scotland to rejoin the European Union and independence would almost be the status quo proposition,' they told the Times.
'If there is ever to be another referendum it needs to be on our terms where remaining part of the UK is the status quo option, as in 2014.
Earlier this month Ms Sturgeon claimed she had an 'unarguable mandate' to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence.
The SNP leader said her party's victory at the