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Independence not an issue for this election, Labour MP claims

Paul Sweeney said independence should be ‘discussed during the Holyrood elections’.

The Labour MP warned the SNP they would ‘pay at the ballot box’ if they back the Tories in the event of a hung parliament (Nick Ansell/PA)
The Labour MP warned the SNP they would ‘pay at the ballot box’ if they back the Tories in the event of a hung parliament (Nick Ansell/PA)

By Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter

Labour MP Paul Sweeney has said Scottish independence is not an issue for the General Election.

The shadow minister for Scotland said the question is one that should be put at the forefront of the 2021 Holyrood election.

Speaking in George Square after a ceremony marking the Armistice in 1918, Mr Sweeney admitted that no government would be able to deny another referendum if there is a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament.

We've been clear that if a mandate were to happen, then no government in the UK could stand against that, even the Tories have admitted that's the case Paul Sweeney, shadow minister for Scotland

When asked if he would be comfortable serving in a Labour government which had granted the Section 30 order needed to hold another referendum, Mr Sweeney said: “Labour is going to be focused on delivering its domestic programme.

“That will restore faith in our communities, it will deal with the economic and social problems that people have to deal with in their everyday lives, not obsessing about nationalism and national borders.

“The reality is this isn’t an issue for this election. The reality is this is an issue for the Scottish Parliament election in 2021.

“We’ve been clear that if a mandate were to happen, then no government in the UK could stand against that, even the Tories have admitted that’s the case.

“We’re saying it’s not an issue for this election. Let’s focus on getting a Labour government into power that can invest in our public services.

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The First Minister made the comments at her party’s conference in Aberdeen in October (Jane Barlow/PA)

“The issue of independence can be discussed at the Scottish Parliament elections.”

Mr Sweeney also warned the SNP about withholding support from the Labour Party if they hold the balance of power after the December 12 poll.

He said: “If that’s the situation after this election, the SNP will have a choice; they enable the Conservatives or you enable a Labour government.

“If they enable the Conservatives, then they’ll pay the price for that at the ballot box.”

Nicola Sturgeon has told any party looking to negotiate following the election “don’t bother picking up the phone” if a second referendum was not on the table.

SNP candidate for Glasgow East David Linden branded Mr Sweeney’s comments “laughable”.

He said: “Scotland’s right to choose our own future is at the heart of this election – and voters will find it laughable to be told otherwise.

“We already have a mandate to hold an independence referendum. That mandate, endorsed by the Scottish Parliament, was an explicit pledge to hold a referendum in the exact circumstances we now face – where Brexit is imposed on Scotland against our will.

“It is absolutely correct that no UK Government can stand against that – so, by their own logic, Labour are accepting that an independence referendum must happen next year.

“A vote for the SNP is a vote to escape Brexit and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”

PA

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