John McDonnell: Labour would not block another Scottish independence referendum

Written by Kevin Schofield on 7 August 2019 in News

In a major shift in the party's policy, the Shadow Chancellor insisted it was up to MSPs at Holyrood to decide whether "indyref2" should happen

Image credit: PA

Labour would not try to block a second independence referendum if the Scottish Parliament voted for one, John McDonnell has revealed.

In a major shift in the party's policy, the Shadow Chancellor insisted it was up to MSPs at Holyrood to decide whether "indyref2" should happen.

His comments were immediately condemned by Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray, who accused McDonnell of "betraying" the party's values of internationalism.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to hold another referendum before the next Scottish Parliament elections in 2021.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has previously said that his party would refuse Holyrood the legal power to hold another poll.

But appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, McDonnell said: "The Scottish Parliament will come to a considered view on that and they will submit that to the Government and the English Parliament itself.

"If the Scottish people decide they want a referendum that's for them."

He added: "We would not block something like that. We would let the Scottish people decide. That's democracy. There are other views within the party but that's our view."

Murray, the MP for Edinburgh South, said: "These are utterly irresponsible comments from John McDonnell that betray our party’s values.

"The Labour Party is an internationalist party founded on a vision of solidarity and we should never seek to appease nationalists - whether they be for Brexit or Scottish independence - who want to divide communities and people.

"John McDonnell has even bought into the nationalist narrative that Westminster is an ‘English Parliament’, in an insult to the hard work carried out by Scottish MPs from every party.

"We were promised by the SNP that the 2014 referendum was once-in-a-generation, and we have a duty to hold the Nationalists to their promise by firmly opposing a divisive second independence referendum.

"But one of the architects of the Corbyn project that is destroying the Labour Party now appears willing to destroy our United Kingdom with thoughtless rants at the Festival."

A Labour source told PoliticsHome: "He’s a f*****g imbecile and has just given our opponents all the ammunition they need. We will now be perceived as pro-Brexit and anti-Union. Well done the arses that run what was the Labour Party."

A Scottish Tory spokesman said: "We all know Nicola Sturgeon’s condition for support in Westminster would be green-lighting a second independence referendum.

"Now it seems John McDonnell is very happy to pay that price. Yet again, it shows only the Scottish Conservatives can be trusted on the Union.”

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: "John McDonnell was clearly not advocating a second independence referendum. He made clear the huge benefit a UK Labour government will  bring for the people of Scotland.

"Labour stands for an end to the status quo in the UK: economically, politically and constitutionally. The real change we need to see in society is an end to austerity and investment in our people, our communities and our public services."

McDonnell's remarks come a day after a new poll showed support for independence now stands at 52 per cent.

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