Sir Keir rejected speculation that his party could consider offering a second referendum on Scottish independence in the event SNP support was required to form a coalition or minority Labour government.
“Look, I will meet Nicola Sturgeon, if she wants to, to talk through the challenges of the day,” he told Scotland’s Daily Record. “But on the constitution … we’ve been absolutely clear that the focus right now is on the recovery and on the climate challenge.”
The Labour leader suggested his party’s stance on Scottish independence referendum would not soften – even after the expected recovery from the Covid crisis.
Sir Keir said the big issues for the whole of the UK going into the next general election would be “generational questions” about the health service, economy and climate emergency.
“They can only be answered, in my view, by a strong Labour government in Westminster,” he said. “The central issue will be if you want a Labour government you have to vote Labour.”
“You can’t vote for another party and get a Labour government in Westminster. That will be our strategic approach to those elections, and there’ll be no coalition going into those elections and no coalition coming out of it.”
Sir Keir accused the SNP of a “huge failure on the climate crisis” ahead of the crucial COP26 climate conference in Glasgow this November – claiming that only one in 20 of the offshore win jobs promised by the Scottish government a decade ago have happened.
“A test of how progressive you are is what you’re doing on climate change and they’ve manifestly failed on that. The SNP has failed to live up to the promises it made the people of Scotland,” he said.
The Labour leader also rejected criticisms about climate crisis targets from some in his own party, and committed to achieving the “substantial majority” of greenhouse gas emission cuts by 2030.
In an interview with The Independent, Sir Keir said the party’s commitment to the promise – effectively putting the UK on the path to net zero 20 years ahead of Boris Johnson’s 2050 target – was as strong now as ever.
The Labour leader’s previous reluctance publicly to reaffirm the pledge inherited from Jeremy Corbyn had sparked fears among activists that he was backing away from radical action on global warming.
But Sir Keir said the pledge was “exactly the same as was in our 2019 manifesto”, adding: “The ambition – and not just the ambition, the determination and the commitment – of the Labour Party on the Green New Deal is just as strong now.”
The Labour leader said Boris Johnson had been “missing in action” on climate change ahead of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow this November.
Both the prime minister and Sir Keir will be in Scotland today. The Labour leader is in Glasgow discussing climate change with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and local youth forum.
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