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McDonnell: Labour have opportunity of lifetime to change direction of politics

The shadow chancellor said the party’s ‘time is coming’, amid suggestions a general election will soon be held.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell will visit Glasgow on Friday (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell will visit Glasgow on Friday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

By Lewis McKenzie, PA Scotland Political Reporter

Labour have been presented with the “opportunity of a lifetime” to change the direction of political travel in the UK, according to John McDonnell.

Ahead of a visit to Glasgow on Friday, the shadow chancellor said that the party’s “time is coming”, amid suggestions that a general election will soon be held.

On the trip, Mr McDonnell will also outline his support for Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard.

Our time is coming and it may be coming quicker than anyone expected Shadow chancellor John McDonnell

In his speech in Glasgow, Mr McDonnell is expected to say: “We are presented with the opportunity of a lifetime to change the direction of political travel in the UK in a way not seen since the 1980s.

“Our time is coming and it may be coming quicker than anyone expected.

“That’s why I’m here, with an election maybe just around the corner, to support Richard Leonard and talk about what we can achieve together.

“A far-right nationalist Conservative Party that will stop at nothing to deliver a no-deal Brexit, screwing over whoever it wants in the process, continuing austerity and failing to lift a finger to tackle the climate emergency.

“And north of the border, a Scottish National Party government who have passed on Tory austerity to Scottish councils and users of public services and who, despite all the rhetoric, have failed to deliver the investment needed so the jobs building our sustainable future are coming to Scotland.”

The UK Parliament was suspended on Tuesday and is not due to return until October 14, just 17 days before the current Brexit deadline of October 31.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament was ruled “improper” and “unlawful” by three senior Scottish judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

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Shadow chancellor John McDonnell (left) will join Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard in Glasgow on Friday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Leonard, who will speak alongside Mr McDonnell in Glasgow, suggested that the Prime Minister had “abused” his power in suspending Parliament.

“Democracy requires continual renewal,” Mr Leonard is expected to say in his speech.

“The Scottish Parliament is 20 years old this year and this week, we have witnessed Boris Johnson close down parliament.

“We have seen power be abused by a desperate Prime Minister lacking a popular mandate. So it is a good time to consider democratic renewal.”

Mr Leonard will add: “The next Labour Government’s success will depend critically on its determination to rebalance power in our constitution and in our institutions in order to deepen and extend democracy.

“This will be a not only be a necessary accompaniment to economic, social and environmental reform – it will be its very essence.

“And this will be the approach of a future Scottish Labour Government too.”

But SNP MP Pete Wishart said: “Labour under Richard Leonard has fallen to fifth place at the last election.

“Nobody believes Labour can beat the Tories in Scotland – and yet more empty promises of super-enhanced-maxi-devolution will do nothing to change that.

“We’ve heard this all before from Labour – but they ganged up with the Tories on the Smith Commission to block key powers, like the minimum wage, from being devolved.

“The only way to win the powers to transform Scotland is through independence.”

PA

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