Scottish independence: ‘Home rule’ should be considered, says Labour MSP

A Scottish Labour MSP has called for “home rule” to be considered as part of the ongoing debate around a second independence referendum.

Alex Rowley, who represents mid-Scotland and Fife in the Scottish Parliament, said “all options” should be on the table, including devo max alongside yes and no options.

He told The Herald on Sunday that Scotland was in a “constitutional stalemate” that was not sustainable.

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Scottish pro-independence supporters hold a march and rally outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

“It results in poor government, rewards political parties for maintaining divisions, and we therefore have to find a way forward and settle the issue,” he said.

Mr Rowley said division and healing the nation could not be solved by “telling 50 per cent of the population they are wrong”.

“The way forward must be an open and civil debate that examines the issues and has all options on the table,” he said.

“My own view is the option of ‘home rule’ must be considered as part of the debate, but, regardless, the significant and material change since 2014 means the same binary choice is no longer on the table.”

Party leader Anas Sarwar has consistently ruled out backing a second referendum, and accused First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of “pitting Scot against Scot”.

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “At the election, Nicola Sturgeon promised that her priority would be our recovery from Covid. But, true to form, she has returned to the politics of division and pitting Scot against Scot.

“This is all a deliberate attempt to distract from her failures.

“Scottish Labour MSPs consistently highlight the failure of her Government to use the powers they already have to address the cost-of-living crisis, the pressures on our health service, the lack of action on our growing educational attainment gap, and the failures in transport

infrastructure.

“The next electoral contest in Scotland will not be a referendum – it will be a general election. That is opportunity for change.”

The SNP said Mr Rowley should change his “broken record”.

Rona MacKay told The Herald on Sunday “no-one can trust” Scottish Labour to stick to its word.

The Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP said: “Scottish Labour made the same vow to Scotland in 2014 and then broke that promise.

“No-one can trust them to stick to their word this time.

“And no amount of constitutional tinkering would protect Scotland from the catastrophe of Brexit or the Tory created cost-of-living crisis.

“The only way Scotland can escape corrosive Westminster control is with the full powers of independence.

“However, Alex Rowley clearly recognises Scotland’s right to choose its own future in a referendum so he should be demanding his boss, Anas Sarwar, dumps his Donald Trump policy of denying clear democratic election results delivered by the people of this country.”

Constitutional expert Aileen McHarg, professor of public law and human rights at Durham University, has said the chances of the Scottish Government winning a court battle over a second independence referendum are “quite slim”.

The comments come after Ms Sturgeon kicked off her fresh campaign for independence in Edinburgh on Tuesday, with preparations being made to hold another referendum in October 2023.

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