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Johnson warns over £150m bill for referendums

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson
Jeremy Corbyn

By Harriet Line

Boris Johnson has claimed it would cost more than £150m and take at least nine months for Britain to hold referendums on Brexit and Scottish independence next year.

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The Prime Minister said if Labour formed a pact with the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon would "demand" another "divisive referendum" on Scotland and a second vote on the UK's EU membership.

Mr Johnson, who will launch the Conservatives' Scottish manifesto today, instead insisted his party would focus on delivering on the vote to leave the EU and the "people's priorities".

Tory analysis suggested that it would take a minimum of nine months to hold both referendums next year and would cost £155m - with the second Brexit poll costing an estimated £138m and the Scottish vote costing £17m.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to give voters the final say on Brexit in a second referendum - with a "credible" Leave option and Remain on the ballot paper - and has promised to resolve the issue within six months.

But he has said he would not support a second Scottish independence referendum within his first two years in office if he wins the keys to Number 10.

Ms Sturgeon said over the weekend that she would press for such a vote next year if she entered into an agreement to support a Labour government.

The PM said: "The financial cost of this to taxpayers up and down the country will be in excess of £150m.

"But the real cost will be much, much higher: the chaos of two referendums in 2020 grinding the country to a halt and the world's greatest political union reduced to the status of a bargaining chip."

Meanwhile, it emerged last night that children would be taught about colonialism, injustice and the role of the British Empire as part of the national curriculum under a Labour government.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is to launch his party's race and faith manifesto in Tottenham, north London, today with pledges to improve social justice and human rights.

Among them is a proposal for businesses to be compelled to report on the pay gap faced by black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (Bame) staff in order to stamp out discriminatory pay.

An "emancipation educational trust" would also be formed "to ensure historical injustice, colonialism and (the) role of the British Empire is taught in the national curriculum".

The trust would also educate on migration and how to address the legacy of slavery and teach how it "interrupted a rich and powerful black history".

Pay gap reporting, which is currently limited to gender, would be extended to Bame groups for businesses with 250 employees or more if Labour wins the December 12 election.

Shadow women and equalities secretary Dawn Butler, who will launch the manifesto alongside the leader, said: "Only by acknowledging the historical injustices faced by our communities can we work towards a better future that is prosperous for all, that isn't blighted by austerity and the politics of fear."

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