Union calls for power
Unison backs call for independence referendum
‘An unstoppable momentum’, says Keith Brown (pic: Terry Murden)
Scotland’s biggest trade union has backed an independence referendum, the latest show of support from the labour movement.
In a vote at today’s full council, Unison agreed overwhelmingly that powers should be transferred to enable a second independence referendum to be held at a time determined by Holyrood.
Unison’s decision follows a similar call by Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary Graeme Smith, and cross-party voices including senior Labour MSPs and MPs who have called for the Scottish Parliament to have the power to hold an independence referendum.
SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown said the move showed an “unstoppable momentum” behind a fresh referendum.
On Wednesday, the Scottish Parliament voted to hold an independence referendum this year – and a new poll by YouGov showed majority support for independence at 51%. Separately, a poll by Survation found 61% believe the Scottish Parliament should determine the timing of a fresh referendum.
Mr Brown said: “There is now an unstoppable momentum behind a fresh independence referendum.
“Scotland voted overwhelmingly to reject Brexit but we have been dragged out of the EU against our will by a Tory government with no mandate here. The people of Scotland must have a choice over our future – so we can remain at the heart of Europe as an equal and independent country.
”Unison, Scotland’s biggest trade union, is the latest respected body to support a transfer of powers so the Scottish Parliament can hold a fresh referendum at a time of its choosing. The democratic right of the people of Scotland to determine our own future cannot be ignored by Westminster.
“And the Constitutional convention announced by the First Minister on Friday will provide an opportunity for organisations such as Scotland’s Trade Unions to come together with elected politicians around that democratic right.
“The SNP won a landslide victory at the general election on a cast-iron mandate to hold an independence referendum. The more Boris Johnson tries to ignore Scotland’s democratic mandate to choose our own future the more support for independence will continue to grow.”
UPDATE 2 Feb:
Former European Council president Donald Tusk appeared go open the door to an independent Scotland joining the EU.
Nicola Sturgeon has said an independent Scotland would seek full EU membership.
When asked if this would be looked upon favourably, Mr Tusk said there would be enthusiasm but he warned the country would not be automatically accepted.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned the comments could encourage “separatist tendencies” in the EU.
Donald Tusk: empathy
They were “rather un-European and rather irresponsible,” he added.
Mr Tusk, who served as European Council president for five years until November last year, said in a television interview that he feels “very Scottish, especially after Brexit”.
When asked about the prospect of an independent Scotland joining the EU, the Polish politician said he had to “respect the internal debate in the United Kingdom” and it was not his role to intervene.
But when pressed on the level of support in the EU towards an independent Scotland joining the union, he said: “Emotionally I have no doubt that everyone will be enthusiastic here in Brussels, and more generally in Europe.
“If you ask me about our emotions, you will witness I think always empathy.”
However he warned that any future entry bid on the part of an independent Scotland would not be automatically accepted – “formalities” and treaty agreements would still need to be adhered to.