Labour Party open to a Scottish independence referendum - McDonnell

Erika Holt
August 11, 2019

The shadow chancellor repeated his comments about not blocking a referendum during a separate Edinburgh Fringe interview on Wednesday - but said the most important thing was getting a Labour government. The blatant offer came hours after the Scottish First Minister floated a "progressive alliance" with Jeremy Corbyn to "lock the Tories out of government" and block Brexit. Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson (inset) pointed out that a "once in a generation" referendum had been held in 2014, and the separatists lost.

He added: "I think he's reckless and I think he's unstable and I will move heaven and earth to stop a no-deal Brexit".

The comments come after the publication of an opinion poll suggesting the majority of Scots could back independence.

Ms Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a referendum on independence within the next two years - but has said formal consent would need to be granted by Westminster before it happens. In my own view, I think (the SNP) are Tories, it's as simple as that and always have thought that.

The Scottish Labour leader met John McDonnell today.

In September 2018, Corbyn told BBC Scotland during that year's Labour Party conference that he was not "ruling out" giving consent for a second Scottish independence referendum, adding that any decision on the matter would be made "at the time".

"I said that in 2015 and 2017 - that's not a new thing".

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"The role of the Liberal Democrats in standing up our partnerships with our neighbours in the United Kingdom and Europe has never been more important".

On Tuesday, prominent Scottish Labour MP and Corbynsceptic Ian Murray described the comments by McDonnell as "utterly irresponsible" and "thoughtless", and claimed that they betrayed the party's values. A group of 13 Scottish Labour candidates said they were clear in their opposition to a second referendum, while others, including Neil Findlay MSP, have said John McDonnell is "absolutely right".

Mr Murray also tweeted: "Scottish Labour opposes a damaging and divisive Scottish independence referendum".

Scottish Labour parliamentary candidates have issued a statement following the reports.

"John McDonnell must clarify his unhelpful freelancing immediately".

"That is a rank betrayal of the two million Scots - including thousands of Labour voters - who voted to stay part of the United Kingdom".

"We expect all Scottish Labour MPs and MSPs to vote in accordance with party policy". "Labour abandons such commitment at our peril". He made clear the huge benefit a UK Labour government will bring for the people of Scotland.

It comes amid speculation that Labour and the SNP are moving towards some form of agreement that would see the parties join forces at Westminster in an attempt to remove Boris Johnson from Downing Street and force a general election.

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