'Not desirable or necessary'

Corbyn reaffirms opposition to indyref2 ahead of rally

Jeremy Corbyn on Sky News

Jeremy Corbyn: no to independence

UPDATE 2 Nov: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reiterated his opposition to Scottish independence on the eve of a huge rally in Glasgow.

Mr Corbyn rejected recent suggestions that Labour would allow a second referendum and said the party “does not support independence”.

He made similar comments earlier this week after the shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said the party would not “stand in the way” of a second poll.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who wants a second independence referendum in the second half of next year, has been buoyed by Mr McDonald’s comments and will address thousands of campaigners in George Square on Saturday. She will tell the gathering: “An independent Scotland is closer than it has ever been. It really is within touching distance.”

But in a statement timed hours before campaigners were due to converge on Glasgow, Mr Corbyn put paid to claims that the UK and Scottish Labour parties were divided on the issue.

“Labour does not support independence for Scotland and we do not think another independence referendum is either desirable or necessary,” he said.

“We are running the most radical, people-focused election campaign the UK has ever seen and if we win we will invest £70 billion in Scotland over the next decade.

“Our promise to the people of Scotland, and people across the UK, is that a Labour government will end austerity, tackle the climate emergency and invest in our communities to truly transform society.”

Mr Corbyn told the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme on 13 October: “I think the 2014 referendum was supposed to be a once in a lifetime opportunity…we wouldn’t even countenance [a second independence referendum] in the early years of a Labour government, I’ve said that very clearly in Scotland as well as here.”

The Scottish Government has put forward the Referendums (Scotland) Bill to set the framework for a new poll and Ms Sturgeon has said the bill should be in law “by the new year”.

But with both main parties opposed to agreeing to another poll, Ms Sturgeon is finding her ambitions frustrated.

Labour was earlier rocked by the defection of former Labour MSP and current Glasgow councillor Anne McTaggart to the SNP.

“The coming election will be one of the most important in Scotland’s history – and it is clear that only a vote for the SNP can enable Scotland to lock out the Tories, escape Brexit and protect Scotland’s right to choose our own future as an independent country,” she said.

The latest clash comes after a survey showed a majority of Scotland’s business leaders believe the nation is not financially strong to thrive on its own.

However, nearly three-quarters of business leaders in Scotland believe Brexit will increase the likelihood of Scottish independence. And a similar amount think Prime Minister Boris Johnson has mishandled the process of the UK exiting the EU.

A poll of delegates attending the Institute of Directors Scotland conference at Gleneagles found 68% backed the call for a people’s vote on the Brexit deal.

However, just over a third (35%) agreed that Boris Johnson with no EU deal would be better for Scottish business than Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minster.

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