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Jess Phillips to ‘unashamedly’ make case for Labour as unionist party

The Birmingham Yardley MP will visit Scotland on Tuesday as she campaigns to become the next Labour leader.

Jess Phillips will visit Scotland on Tuesday as she campaigns to become the next Labour leader (Jess Phillips/PA)
Jess Phillips will visit Scotland on Tuesday as she campaigns to become the next Labour leader (Jess Phillips/PA)

By Lewis McKenzie, PA Scotland Political Reporter

Jess Phillips is to “unashamedly” make the case for Labour as a unionist party during a visit to Scotland.

The Labour leadership candidate will travel to Glasgow on Tuesday, with the Birmingham Yardley MP expected to pledge that any future Labour Party that she leads will be “100% committed to the union”.

Ahead of her visit, Ms Phillips accused the SNP of being a “threat to opportunity and equality” for working people in Scotland.

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Nominations to be the next Labour leader closed on Monday, with Jess Phillips (right) and Keir Starmer (left) on the ballot, along with Rebecca Long Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry (BBC/PA)

Last week, it was announced party leader Richard Leonard would be seeking to engage with members on Scottish Labour’s position on independence, with a view being outlined in the spring.

However, the party’s Scottish Executive rejected Mr Leonard’s proposals for a special conference on federalism, which could have seen it support a multi-option referendum on independence.

“The idea that the answer to the UK leaving a union with our most important trading partner is for Scotland to leave a union with her most important trading partner only makes sense if you’re a nationalist,” said Ms Phillips.

“Nicola Sturgeon wants to talk to me about threats to Scotland – the SNP’s abject failings on education and health show that it is her administration that remains a threat to opportunity and equality for working people in Scotland.”

Ms Phillips also said that Labour should be making the case for solidarity and “internationalism”.

“Labour believes in the union because we believe in redistribution, because we want to bring people together, not divide them, and because our compassion doesn’t end at an imaginary line on a map.

“Let nationalists make the case for nationalism, we should make the argument for solidarity and internationalism.”

A spokeswoman for the SNP described the contribution by Ms Phillips as “ill-informed”.

“People in Scotland simply don’t trust the Labour Party – and increasingly arrogant interventions by leadership candidates are doing nothing to change that,” she said.

“It’s disappointing that Jess Phillips would deny the people of Scotland their right to basic democracy – and would rather we remain shackled to a chaotic, dysfunctional and increasingly right-wing Tory government.

“With contributions as ill-informed as this, it’s no surprise that Jess Phillips is expected to have little impact in the Labour leadership election.”

PA

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