Scottish independence: Labour MP denies party ‘confusion’ on IndyRef2

Angela Rayner said Scotland faced more pressing issues than a second referendum. Picture: Getty
Angela Rayner said Scotland faced more pressing issues than a second referendum. Picture: Getty
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A senior Labour MP today insisted that a second referendum on independence "is not what Scotland needs" - despite John McDonnell's recent comments that the party would not block such a vote.

Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, denied there was confusion among her colleagues on Labour's stance regarding a possible IndyRef2.

Mr McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, last week told an audience in Edinburgh that a Labour-led UK government would not stand in the way of a second referendum if the Scottish Government asked for one.

After talks with Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who insisted the party opposes IndyRef2, Mr McDonnell doubled-down on his statement and revealed that Jeremy Corbyn supported his view.

But speaking today, Ms Rayner claimed Labour's position was "clear". Appearing on the BBC Breakfast Show, she was asked about the "confusion" among her senior colleagues on the issue.

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“The Labour party policy is clear that we don't believe that a second referendum in Scotland is the way forward at the moment," she said.

"The issues that are faced in Scotland are the same for England, Northern Ireland and Wales - and that's a disastrous no deal Brexit, and an appointed prime minister who has not been tested by the public yet."

Pressed on Mr McDonnell's comments, the shadow education secretary commented: "What John was saying that if it came to the UK Parliament, he would not use legislation to block a vote on that.

"But we are not calling for a second referendum in Scotland. We do not believe that's the issue for the Scottish people at the moment.

"The issues for the Scottish people are the same as ours. We need to stick together, to work together, to get a Labour Government, that's going to implement socialist policies."

SNP MSP Tom Arthur said: “Polls show that Labour members overwhelmingly believe that Scotland’s future should be decided at Holyrood, not Westminster - so why don’t the leadership agree?

“If Labour continue to side with the Tories in denying the democratic right of the Scottish people to choose their own future, they’ll be wiped out completely.”

Scottish Conservative chief whip Maurice Golden MSP said: “Yet again we have senior members of the Labour Party saying that they would allow Nicola Sturgeon to hold a second independence referendum.

“The fact is that they would happily give the SNP exactly want they want if it gave them the slimmest chance of gaining power.

“This is a total betrayal of the vote that we took in 2014, and the millions of Scots who voted to stay part of the United Kingdom.

“That’s why no Conservative Prime Minister would ever think of giving in to Sturgeon’s demands.

“It’s clear that Labour can no longer be trusted on the Union – only Ruth and the Scottish Conservatives will stand up to the SNP and say no to indyref2.”

Yesterday, a Labour councillor in South Lanarkshire resigned following a row over whether the party would allow a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Fiona Dryburgh, who represents an East Kilbride ward, announced she had defected to the Lib Dems because of her “vehement” opposition to Scottish independence.”