Tom Watson outlines opposition to second independence referendum
UK Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson has outlined his opposition to holding a second referendum on Scottish independence.
The comments come after John McDonnell told an audience at the Edinburgh fringe that the party would not block a request to hold one, saying the decision should be “up to the Scottish people and the Scottish Parliament” and adding, “I’m not into blocking democratic exercises, by any means”.
The shadow chancellor said: "My view is we shouldn't be allowed in this way to be manipulated by Nicola Sturgeon in that referendum debate, by trying to accuse a UK parliament of blocking the will of the Scottish people."
But McDonnell’s stance drew strong criticism from Scottish Labour politicians, with Richard Leonard insisting “a second independence referendum is unwanted by the people of Scotland and it is unnecessary”.
In a video released yesterday, Watson sided with Leonard, saying he backed the Scottish Labour leader’s position.
He said: "We can see the mess caused by the prospect of the UK leaving the four decade-long union with Europe - imagine how much more disruptive it would be to break our three centuries-long Union of Scotland within the UK."
He added: "As we said in our 2017 manifesto, Labour opposes another referendum and the turbo-charged austerity in Scotland that leaving the UK would cause, with the inevitable threat to thousands of jobs and livelihoods.
"That is not because our society doesn't need to change. It does, and badly.
"But another independence referendum isn't the answer. More nationalism, more uncertainty, and more division isn't the answer."