Labour leadership candidates clash over IndyRef2 position

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Two MPs aiming to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader have clashed over whether a second referendum on Scottish independence should take place.

Clive Lewis said his party must not oppose an IndyRef2 and that his colleagues north of the Border should be able to campaign for a Yes vote if they wished, adding Scots should not be "dictated to".

Jess Phillips said she was opposed to an IndyRef2 and instead wanted to discuss issues 'relevant to the lives of people in Scotland'

Jess Phillips said she was opposed to an IndyRef2 and instead wanted to discuss issues 'relevant to the lives of people in Scotland'

Mr Lewis, who is not considered a serious contender to win the top job, said the debate over who should lead Labour following its disastrous election result last month had so far paid little attention to Scotland.

Mr Corbyn led Labour to its worst general election result since 1935, with the party losing six of its seven MPs north of the Border.

READ MORE: Jess Phillips stands firm against Scottish independenc

“It is little surprise ... that many Scots see themselves not as partners in a union of equal nations, but as a country shackled instead to a dysfunctional political system that is costing them dearly," he wrote in a column in The National.

“Given the option to exit the UK, it is little wonder that so many now support independence and, given the prospect of at least five years of Tory rule imposing a Brexit that Scotland did not vote for, the question of independence and a second referendum is unavoidable."

He added: "In the words of the 1989 Scottish Constitutional Convention, supported by Labour MPs, I believe 'in the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs'.

"It is not for me, as an English MP for an English constituency, to dictate to Scotland what that form of government should be, and there should be no question of Labour opposing a second independence referendum if there is a mandate to hold one."

But his position drew a sharp reaction from leadership rival Jess Phillips, who said today: "I care as much about kids in Glasgow as I do my own kids in Birmingham.

"We should be talking about things that actually matter to them: the SNP's education crisis and rising waiting times.

She added: "There are no circumstance where I think it would be better for Scotland to leave the UK."

The SNP welcomed Mr Lewis' support for Scotland’s right to hold an independence referendum.

SNP Westminster Deputy Leader Kirsty Blackman MP said: "The SNP Government has a cast-iron democratic mandate to hold an independence referendum – stronger than any mandate Boris Johnson has to impose Brexit – and the UK government must respect that.

"It is welcome that a growing number of senior Labour figures are recognising that mandate and respecting Scotland's right to choose our own future.

"If front bench spokespeople like Clive Lewis can respect Scotland's right to self-determination, and understand why so many people are moving to support independence, there is no democratic reason why the UK government should attempt to block a referendum”.