Jeremy Corbyn is accused by Tories of ‘surrendering’ to the SNP after he says a Labour government would not block a second referendum on Scottish independence
- Jeremy Corbyn says ‘it’s not up to Parliament’ to stand in the way of another poll
- Mr Corbyn’s comments likely to spark anger among pro-Union Labour MPs
- Scottish Tories accuse the Labour leader of ‘surrendering’ to the SNP
- Nicola Sturgeon welcomes Mr Corbyn’s comments and says ‘he’s right’
- 2014 referendum saw Scotland vote to stay in UK by 55 per cent to 45 per cent
Jeremy Corbyn said today a Labour government would not block a second referendum on Scottish independence in a move likely to spark a fierce backlash among the party’s MPs.
The Labour leader said he did not believe a second vote on leaving the UK would be a good idea and he would advise against holding one.
But he insisted MPs in Westminster should not stand in the way if Scotland wanted another public vote on the issue.
Scottish Conservatives immediately accused Mr Corbyn of ‘surrendering’ to Nicola Sturgeon in a bid to secure SNP support for a future Labour-led government.
The SNP leader welcomed Mr Corbyn’s comments and said: ‘I’m not Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest fan but on this he’s right’.
Mr Corbyn’s remarks came after shadow chancellor John McDonnell said earlier this month that a Labour government would not block a future referendum on Scottish independence.
Labour in Scotland has campaigned against holding a second public vote with the party’s Scottish leader Richard Leonard having previously indicated it would refuse to grant Holyrood the power to stage one.
Scotland voted in 2014 to remain part of the UK by 55 per cent to 45 per cent. Ms Sturgeon has indicated she wants to hold a second vote before 2021.
Mr Corbyn was asked today if he agreed with Mr McDonnell’s statement and he replied: ‘It’s not up to Parliament to block it, but it’s up to Parliament to make a point about whether it’s a good idea or not.
‘I do not think it’s a good idea.’
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader pictured at the start of August, said today that ‘it’s not up to Parliament to block’ a second Scottish independence referendum
Mr Corbyn has been accused of ‘surrendering’ to Nicola Sturgeon (pictured on ITV’s Loose Women on August 12) in order to secure SNP support for a future Labour government
He added: ‘My view is that I’m not in favour of Scottish independence. The referendum did take place and a decision was reached on that.
‘What I’d much rather is a Labour government given the chance to ensure that Scotland also gets the investment it needs, also gets the social justice it needs, and also gets the job opportunities for young people which have been denied.’
Mr McDonnell was criticised by Labour’s MSP group at Holyrood following his comments at an Edinburgh Festival Fringe event.
Mr Corbyn said: ‘I would advise that we don’t have another referendum, I’m not in support of Scottish independence.
‘What I am in support of is justice for Scotland, and that means investment in Scotland by a Labour government for the whole of the UK.’
Ms Sturgeon said: ‘I’m not Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest fan but on this he’s right. It is legitimate to oppose independence and to argue against a referendum – it’s not legitimate for Westminster to block a democratic mandate and a majority vote in [the Scottish parliament] for [a second referendum].’
But Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw attacked Mr Corbyn for his comments.
He said: ‘Simply put, Jeremy Corbyn has surrendered on a second independence referendum.
‘Both he and John McDonnell are preparing to hand Nicola Sturgeon the referendum she wants in exchange for SNP support for a Labour government.’
He added: ‘Scottish Labour has been left dangling in the breeze – they are utterly irrelevant, even to their own party.
‘It’s clear who’s in charge of Scottish Labour and it’s not Richard Leonard. It’s a complete betrayal of thousands of Labour voters in Scotland who support the Union.
‘It shows once and for all that Corbyn cannot be trusted to defend Scotland’s decision to remain in the UK.’
Mr McDonnell was accused of treating Mr Corbyn ‘like a puppet’ after he made his original comments amid claims he failed to warn the Labour leader the party would not block a second Scottish independence referendum.
Sights set on second referendum: John McDonnell was criticised for allegedly failing to warn Jeremy Corbyn that Labour would not block a second Scottish vote at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Party sources said the shadow chancellor went ‘rogue’ and ‘blindsided’ Mr Corbyn by declaring a Labour government would not stop Scottish nationalists from holding another breakaway poll.
The bombshell announcement sparked a civil war within the party, with Labour MP Graham Jones telling The Mail on Sunday that he would vote against any ‘dirty deals’ with the SNP to damage the Union – even if that ‘kept Labour out of power’.
A senior Labour MP said: ‘Corbyn didn’t know what McDonnell was going to say and nor did his office.
‘They were completely blindsided by John going rogue and making the headlines.’
Sources close to Mr Corbyn’s office said they understood that the shadow chancellor’s comments were ‘off the cuff – not a planned intervention’.