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Labour win would remove SNP ‘raison d’etre’ for indyref2 – Richard Leonard

The party’s Scottish leader was speaking alongside Jeremy Corbyn on a campaign visit to South Lanarkshire.

Richard Leonard made the comments during a visit from Jeremy Corbyn to Scotland (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Richard Leonard made the comments during a visit from Jeremy Corbyn to Scotland (Andrew Milligan/PA)

By Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter

Victory for Labour in December’s General Election will remove any need for a second vote on Scottish independence, Richard Leonard has said.

On a day when questions were asked about Labour’s position on independence, the party’s Scottish leader was unequivocal in his opposition to any repeat of the 2014 vote.

Speaking to journalists at Tannochside Miners Welfare in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, with UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Leonard said the terms of the debate on independence could change with the election of a Labour government.

If in the first six months of a Labour government there is a vote on Brexit, which votes for Remain, then that takes away the raison d'etre for the SNP's latest reason for pushing for a second independence referendum Richard Leonard, Scottish Labour leader

He said: “People need to consider how the terms of the debate around the constitutional question in Scotland can and will change.

“Firstly, with the election of a progressive, re-distributive Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn.”

Mr Leonard also said his party is the only one offering a second referendum on Brexit, which Mr Corbyn has said will take place in the first six months of a Labour government.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has previously said his party would support a second vote on Brexit if it does not secure a majority at Westminster.

Mr Leonard said: “If in the first six months of a Labour government there is a vote on Brexit, which votes for Remain, then that takes away the raison d’etre for the SNP’s latest reason for pushing for a second independence referendum.”

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Jeremy Corbyn has been campaigning in Scotland ahead of the December 12 poll (Andrew Milligan/PA)

When asked about Labour’s view on a second independence referendum if the SNP win a majority in the 2021 Holyrood election, Mr Leonard said he would fight to win that poll.

He said: “I’ll be leading the Scottish Labour Party into those elections and I’ll be intent on winning those elections.

“The question of another party getting a mandate is not something that we’re contemplating.

“We’ve said that we’re a party who is opposed to independence. We do not favour or see the need for a second referendum.”

UK Labour shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said earlier this month that a majority for pro-independence parties at the 2021 Holyrood poll would give them a mandate for another referendum.

On Wednesday, Mr Corbyn said he would rule out an independence vote in “the first term” of a Labour government – something his aides later walked back.

Hours later, he said he does not support independence and there would not be another vote in “the early years” of a Labour administration.

PA

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