Labour leader relents
Starmer: SNP win in 2021 would be indyref2 mandate
Sir Keir Starmer: needs votes in Scotland
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has confirmed he stands by his claims that if the SNP win Holyrood in 2021 they have a mandate for another referendum.
Sir Keir, whose position on independence is evidently more sympathetic than that taken by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, has shifted position a number of times.
In January he said that a victory for the SNP next May would be grounds for another poll. Last week, during a visit to Scotland, he appeared to change his mind.
During a series of interviews today he said his party would not campaign for a referendum in next May’s Scottish Parliament elections, but refused to rule out another referendum if the SNP is returned to power.
Sir Keir said: “We will be going into that election in May making it very clear that another divisive referendum on independence in Scotland is not what is needed.
“What is needed is an intense focus on rebuilding the economy, on making sure public services are rebuilt as well and dealing with the pandemic.”
He admitted he stood by his comments from January this year that another vote on independence would be “democratic” if Nicola Sturgeon’s party win next May.
He said: “Well, these issues are questions for Scotland. I do stand by that.
“I am setting out the argument Scottish Labour will be making between now and next May.”
Labour currently has just 23 Members of the Scottish Parliament, putting it behind the Tories on 31, and the SNP on 61.
He said Labour needed a better performance in Scotland if it wanted to return to power in Westminster.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “We are eight months from the Scottish Parliament election and already Labour are throwing in the towel and agreeing to the SNP’s demands.
“Yet again, Labour are proving they’re too much of a mess to stand up to the nationalists. They’ll give in at the first chance they get.
“The Scottish Conservatives are the only party who will stand up for the United Kingdom every time.”