More flip-flopping from Labour leader
Kezia: ‘I could back independence to keep Scotland in EU’
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said a second referendum on Scottish independence will be “almost inevitable” if Scotland votes to stay in the EU but Britain as a whole votes to leave.
Now Ms Dugdale has said she would “do whatever I could to preserve and promote” Scotland’s place in the EU, even if it meant breaking away from the UK.
In an interview with the Fabian Review, Ms Dugdale said: “I see tremendous benefits from the EU to Scotland, so I would do whatever I could to preserve and promote that. The same argument applies to the UK. I would very much like both those unions to stay.”
She it is “not inconceivable” that she could back Scottish independence if Britain votes to leave the EU.
Her comments are likely to cause schisms in her party whose slump in the polls since 2014 was largely attributed to the party campaigning with the Conservatives in favour of the union.
She has declared that in the event of another referendum her members should have a free vote. However, she has also stated that her manifesto will guarantee no second referendum. Now she appears to be shifting her position again.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “This staggering admission – that it’s “not inconceivable” Kezia Dugdale could vote for independence means that Scottish Labour simply cannot be trusted to defend the decision of two million Scots to stay part of the UK.
“The idea that Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom is in some way dependent on Britain’s membership of the EU is offensive. Scotland helped build the UK and is an integral part of it – confirmed by the referendum vote just 18 months ago.
“With the SNP about to prepare a fresh drive for independence, we need to stand up for our place in the UK. It now appears Labour are simply incapable of doing that.”
Ms Dudale’s shifting views on the constitution come in a week when she was accused of backtracking on plans to give a £100 rebate to the poor to compensate for her plans to increase income tax.
She said there was no longer any need for the rebate because of Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to raise thresholds, another statement that drew criticism from Labour supporters.