JEREMY Corbyn’s “divided” Labour party will help push Scotland firmly towards another independence referendum, Alex Salmond has said.
The former first minister claimed splits within the Labour party caused by the election of the radical left-winger, coupled with David Cameron’s “failure” to deliver on his promise for more devolution to Scotland, has sharply increased the likelihood of a new referendum.
However, he accepted that Mr Corbyn’s stance on some policies such as austerity and Trident could make it easier for the SNP and Labour party to work together.
Mr Salmond said said: “There is now a much more compressed timescale in my opinion, the factors bearing down on that are the non-delivery of ‘the vow’, the austerity economics, Cameron’s gambling with Scotland’s European future, and the un-electability of a divided Labour party - these are things bringing the likelihood of a further referendum into a much sharper timescale than I thought previously possible.
“As for the timing of that, that’s a matter for Nicola Sturgeon, my successor, and of course the Scottish people because, of course, Nicola can put what she wants in her manifesto but the people of Scotland have to vote for it.
“Support for independence is rising further than the high water mark of last year - that’s not a tenable situation for a Prime Minister with one MP in Scotland.”
But he added that the election of Mr Corbyn could make cooperation in Parliament “between key opposition parties easier”.
“It will be easier to co-operate with Labour on a number of issues like, they won’t abstain on the welfare bill again, to Trident coming up. I’m hoping we’ll be able to cooperate on that.
“But it will make some issues harder like Europe, where he is much more ambivalent than his predecessors and we’re heavily in favour.”
A Downing Street spokesman said yesterday that the referendum was “fair, legal and decisive.”
“The people of Scotland voted decisively to remain part of the United Kingdom and the Edinburgh Agreement committed both governments to respecting that outcome.
“It’s important now that everyone respects the Edinburgh Agreement that was committed to by both governments.”