Jeremy Corbyn risks wrath of Scottish Labour with comments about second independence referendum

Labour leader ‘has surrendered’ to SNP, say Tories

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Thursday 15 August 2019 19:10
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Jeremy Corbyn has risked reigniting Labour’s row over a Scottish independence referendum as he said he did not believe it was up to the UK parliament to block a vote.

It comes after John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, faced criticism from colleagues for saying a Labour government would not stand in the way of any decision of the Scottish people on the issue.

His remarks also led former prime minister Gordon Brown to accuse the Labour leader’s close ally of falling into a “nationalist trap”.

Mr McDonnell, who claimed Mr Corbyn agreed with him on the matter, told the Edinburgh Festival last week that any decision on holding a vote would be down to the Scottish people and Labour would not “block something like that”.

The party in Scotland has campaigned against holding another vote, with Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard having previously indicated that it would refuse to grant Holyrood the power to stage one.

Asked whether he agreed with the shadow chancellor’s remarks, Mr Corbyn told the BBC on Thursday: Well it’s not up to parliament to block it, but it’s up to parliament to make a point about whether it’s a good idea or not. I do not think it’s a good idea.

“My view is that I’m not in favour of Scottish independence; the referendum did take place and a decision was reached on that.”

Pressed again, he added: “What I’d much rather is a Labour government given the chance to ensure that Scotland also gets the investment it needs, also gets the social justice it needs, and also gets the job opportunities for young people which have been denied.”

After facing criticism over his stance last week, Mr McDonnell reiterated that a Labour government would not use “parliamentary devices” at Westminster to block the will of the Scottish people.

He claimed that by doing so, the party would fall into the trap “set up” by the SNP to cast a future Labour administration and the “big bad English” as standing in the way of their proposals.

Seizing on the comments, the Scottish Tory deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: Simply put, Jeremy Corbyn has surrendered on a second independence referendum.

“Both he and John McDonnell are preparing to hand Nicola Sturgeon the referendum she wants in exchange for SNP support for a Labour government.”

“Scottish Labour has been left dangling in the breeze they are utterly irrelevant, even to their own party,” he added.

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