Published: Sun, August 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Scottish Labour leader hits back in indyref2 row

Scottish Labour leader hits back in indyref2 row

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, used an appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to say the Labour Party would not stand in the way of a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Nicola Sturgeon has said Labour is the "stumbling block" to forming a progressive alliance to halt the Conservatives. "That's democracy", McDonnell was quoted as saying.

Mr McDonnell said on Tuesday: "I'm not being set up by Nicola Sturgeon to blame the UK Government for blocking the will of the Scottish people - that's too trite a political manoeuvre that's been taken on at the moment".

The group said: "We deplore any attempts to undermine the official policy position of the Scottish Labour Party and we express serious concerns about an apparent change in Labour's position on a matter of vital importance to the future of Scotland of the Scottish Labour Party itself".

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, has threatened to call for a vote of no confidence in the government run by newly elected Boris Johnson in the autumn to prevent a no deal Brexit.

However, Ms Sturgeon also stressed that she was "no great fan of Jeremy Corbyn" and said she "can't see the SNP going into formal coalition with Labour". The new Prime Minister has said that he will ensure the United Kingdom leaves the European Union by the deadline on October 31 "come what may".

The first deadline on March 29 was extended but new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he has no intention of extending the deadline again and has said the United Kingdom will leave on October 31 "come what may".

The suggestion was mocked by Labour's Ian Murray, the party's MP for Edinburgh.

"That's the debate we're now having in how we go forward, and m view is that we shouldn't be manipulated by Nicola Sturgeon in that referendum debate by trying to accuse a United Kingdom parliament of trying to block the will of the Scottish people - better for us to argue for the need for a Labour government and that a referendum doesn't help the process, it impedes the process, of improving people's lives".

"The Labour Party is an internationalist party founded on a vision of solidarity and we should never seek to appease nationalists, whether they be for Brexit or Scottish independence, who want to divide communities and people".

"John McDonnell must clarify his unhelpful freelancing immediately".

"It's clear only the Liberal Democrats are robustly standing up for Scotland's place in the United Kingdom and the European Union".

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said Labour's U-turn was a "rank betrayal" of the 2m voters who backed the Union in 2014.

She added: "Unless Scottish Labour join the SNP in defending Scotland's right to hold an independence referendum, they'll be lending their backing to the jobs-wrecking Tory Brexit and will continue their slide into complete irrelevance".

Mr McDonnell also insisted Labour would reject a government of "national unity" and instead push Mr Corbyn to form a caretaker government with the support of other opposition parties and rebel Tories or go for a general election.

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