Scottish Labour councillor quits party over independence stance

Scottish independence supporters demonstrate in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
Scottish independence supporters demonstrate in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
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A Labour councillor has resigned following a row over whether the party would allow a second referendum on Scottish independence.

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

It follows the dramatic revelation last week from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who claimed a future Labour government at Westminster would not block an IndyRef2.

Mr McDonnell’s remarks, made over two days at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, ignited a civil war within Labour ranks, and forced the party’s Scottish leader, Richard Leonard, to publicly reiterate his opposition to a second referendum.

READ MORE: Labour at war over split on Scottish independence vote

Councillor Dryburgh said: "My politics have not altered but the Labour Party has now moved to a place where I can no longer support them. I am vehemently opposed to Scottish independence and I firmly believe that Britain is better off in the EU. As a result I have now found a new home within the Liberal Democrats.

"I am proud to join a progressive party and naturally will continue to support my constituents to the best of my ability, as I have done for more than two years.”

Her defection was welcomed by Scottish Lib Dems leader Willie Rennie. He said: “Fiona will be a great addition to our growing group of councillors in South Lanarkshire.

She joins the many former Labour members who are proud to call themselves Liberal Democrats and she is representative of thousands of former Labour voters who are now backing the Liberal Democrats. They have been offended by Labour’s decision to abandon Scotland in the UK and the EU. We are now their political home.”

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “It is regrettable that Councillor Dryburgh has taken this decision.

“The irony is that Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom was threatened hugely by the brutal austerity that the Lib Dems helped the Tories deliver.”

“Richard Leonard has made clear that Scottish Labour is campaigning to remain in and reform both the UK and the EU, and that unlike the Lib Dems we will not punish the poorest by supporting Tory austerity.”