Scottish independence: Labour leadership remain silent over democratic route to independence for Scots

Keir Starmer has said SNP victory in a so-called ‘de-facto referendum’ at the general election in 2024 would not change Labour’s opposition to a second vote on Scottish independence.

It came as the UK Labour leader and his Scottish counterpart, Anas Sarwar, repeatedly refused to outline a democratic route to independence for Scots.

Nicola Sturgeon has said if the SNP win the next general election and get more than half of the popular vote, it would form a mandate for Scotland to become independent.

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This, the First Minister said, would only be necessary if the Supreme Court does not back the Scottish Government’s bid to legislate for a referendum and the UK Government refuses to grant a Section 30 order – the method used for the 2014 vote.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty ImagesLabour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images
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In a new paper published on Monday, Scottish Labour said it believed the people of Scotland were sovereign and had the right to decide how to be governed.

However, speaking to the Scottish Parliamentary Journalist Association on Tuesday, Sir Keir – flanked by Mr Sarwar – provided no answers when asked how Scots could become independent and rejected accusations the statement was a meaningless platitude.

Asked what the democratic route would be, Mr Sarwar said it would be for “those who seek to break up the country to tell you what they think the route for that is” and claimed the majority of Scots did not want a referendum.

He said: “What I have to do, what Keir has to do, is to persuade people that the choice is not between the Tories and the status quo or between austerity and independence.

“There is a choice that demonstrates change, but also makes Scotland stronger within a reforming, modernising, diverse, outward-looking UK.”

Sir Keir said “I agree with Anas,” before adding: “If you want change, vote in a Labour government.

“That is going to be what's on the ballot of the next general election.

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“For a Labour government that will change the whole of the UK for the better and change Scotland for the better.”

Asked whether a 50 per cent plus one vote victory for the SNP in a ‘de-facto referendum’ would change the approach of Labour as a democratic party, Sir Keir said everyone in Scotland was more worried about the cost of living and it would be the economy Labour would focus on.

The Labour leader accused the SNP of “faux patriotism” and said it was “completely wrong” for the SNP to suggest the problems could be solved by independence.

He said: “It doesn't change the principal position. We go into that election making a case for change.

"This faux patriotism that everything can be solved by putting a border between Scotland and England is completely wrong.”

Mr Sarwar added: “It's not going to get the fact that no matter what the SNP might say, it is not a de-facto referendum. It's not gonna be Scotland against England. It's gonna be Boris against Britain.”

The Labour leaders also reiterated there would be no deal of any form with the SNP after the general election.

They pointed to the commitment for the local elections in Scotland in which Labour councillors stood under a pledge not to do deals with opposition parties, but resulted in Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors receiving non-political posts in return for voting in a Labour administration and one co-leadership agreement with the SNP in Dumfries and Galloway.

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Sir Keir said: “No deals going into the election and no deals coming out of the election.

“There is no alliance to be forged with a party that wants to break up the United Kingdom.

"I want a Labour Government and I want to be the Prime Minister for the whole of the United Kingdom.”



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