Scottish Labour told to '˜get off the fence' on second EU referendum

People walk past placards left at the Department of International Trade during a march calling for a People's Vote on the final Brexit deal, in central London. Picture: NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images.

Scottish Labour must “get off the fence” over a second referendum on EU membership, one of the leading campaigners for a so-called People’s Vote will say in Edinburgh today.

Lord Adonis, the former education minister, will call on all Scottish MPs to back a public vote on the terms of the UK’s Brexit deal to honour the Remain vote across Scotland in 2016.

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His comments come as rifts have emerged in the SNP over the party’s strengthening 
support for a second EU referendum, with one MP saying
 a People’s Vote “won’t happen”.

Addressing an event in Edinburgh, Lord Adonis will say: “Scotland’s MPs will be critical in the fight for a People’s Vote.

“Scotland voted overwhelmingly to Remain, so the Scottish Labour Party must get off the fence and back a People’s Vote.

“The vast majority of Labour Party supporters in Scotland want one, and they do not want their only pro-EU option to be the SNP.”

Lord Adonis will be joined by Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray, who will challenge Scottish Conservatives to “put the country before the Tory Party”.

“Tory leader Ruth Davidson backed Remain and it’s time she told her Scottish MPs to stop acting as Lobby fodder for the Brexiteers, and get behind a People’s Vote,” Mr Murray said.“She can’t claim to support the Union while putting it at risk with a hard Brexit. Her MPs have a key role when this comes to the Commons – it’s time to put the country before the Tory Party.”

Labour MEP Catherine Stihler will warn that “future generations will not forgive us if we go ahead with Brexit”.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford signalled this week that his party would step up its campaign for a second EU referendum, pledging to push a motion fowarward in the Commons for a People’s Vote if Labour do not.

Mr Blackford was part of a cross-party delegation that met Michel Barnier in Brussels on Thursday, and told the EU chief Brexit negotiator to prepare for the UK to change its mind. But in a sign that sections of the SNP are more eager to push for a second independence referendum than create an opportunity to reconsider leaving the EU, Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil posted on twitter yesterday: “The People’s Vote won’t happen because of [parliamentary] arithmetic... actually supporting it or not makes not a jot of difference.”

He added that “various main permutations” for independence “need to be progressed pronto”.