SNP and Conservative depute leaders line up for debate on independence

Keith Brown (left) challenged Jackson Carlaw to a debate on the issue of a second referendum
Keith Brown (left) challenged Jackson Carlaw to a debate on the issue of a second referendum
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The prospect of a public debate between two senior MSPs on Scottish independence has been held open following a spirited exchange on TV.

Keith Brown and Jackson Carlaw clashed last night on an STV chat show on the prospect of IndyRef2, hours after the Scottish Government published a referendum bill which could grant it the future power to hold another vote on the constitution.

The Scottish Conservative deputy leader claimed that Scots were fed-up of constitutional politics, there was no demand for a further referendum, and that Nicola Sturgeon should be focused on the “day job”.

READ MORE: Sturgeon accused of ‘cut and run’ on People’s Vote

But the SNP depute hit back, saying Mr Carlaw was treating Scotland with “contempt” by claiming a second vote would not be approved by the UK Government.

He continued: “I asked Jackson Carlaw to debate this issue two months ago and he ran away from it. I challenge again tonight - if you’ve got the confidence in your own arguments will you accept my challenge to have a public debate on this issue?”

Carlaw replied: “As one deputy to another I am more than happy to take him on and murder him on the issue.”

The Scotsman asked both parties today if a debate between the two MSPs would now be arranged.

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “We’re always happy for such a debate – in fact, Jackson is writing to Keith Brown to invite him to his constituency over the summer to do exactly that.”

But the SNP said any debate must take place at a neutral venue.

Mr Brown said: “If Jackson Carlaw won’t face up to a debate unless he’s playing to a hand-picked home crowd. Maybe he thinks it’s less distance to travel home with his tail between his legs.

“No subject should be off limits in this debate, but let’s stick to the original issue and a proper, grown-up debate, independently moderated and at an appropriate neutral venue, on an independence referendum on the future of our country.

“If the Tories won’t face up to that then it’ll be obvious to everyone they have no positive vision for Scotland.”