Tory threats that Britain could leave the European Union without an agreed Brexit deal are as damaging to the UK as Nicola Sturgeon’s plans to hold a second independence referendum, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale will claim.
Ms Dugdale will warn both these scenarios would lead to “job losses and even more austerity than we’re already facing”.
She will speak out on the issue after shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer insisted leaving the EU without a deal would be ‘’reckless’’ and represent the worst outcome for the UK.
Ms Dugdale will say: “The Government’s handling of Brexit has shown us the risks they’re willing to take with our country’s economy.
“Threatening to walk away from the EU without a deal is no better than Nicola Sturgeon’s threat to walk away from the UK with independence.
“Both would lead to job losses and even more austerity than we’re already facing.”
She will give the warning as she addresses the Scottish Trades Union Congress in Aviemore, where she will also challenge the Tories over their failure to guarantee the rights of EU citizens currently living in Britain.
If Jeremy Corbyn wins the general election on June 8, European nationals would have their right to remain in the UK guaranteed on the first day of a Labour administration.
Ms Dugdale, who mounted a fierce attack on the Tories over the so-called “rape clause” - which means tax credits are limited to two children with an exemption for women who have conceived as a result of rape - will brand the Government’s stance on this issue as “another example of its lack of compassion”.
She will also criticise the Tories at Westminster over their “refusal to take EU nationals off the table as bargaining chips”, and will add: “That’s why I’m proud that Labour’s shadow Brexit seretary, Keir Starmer, made absolutely clear that we would unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU migrants on day one of a Labour Government.
“Because it is the right thing to do.
“These are people who have chosen to come to the UK, to make their lives here, to raise families and contribute to our economy here.
“We shouldn’t then make them bargaining chips in our negotiations with the EU.”
She will challenge Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson to “commit the Tories to providing the same guarantee in her party’s manifesto”.
Ms Dugdale will add: “After her defence of the abhorrent rape clause, anything else would add to the growing evidence that she isn’t a different kind of Tory after all.”