Richard Leonard: Indy2 turmoil would be worse than Brexit
The Scottish Labour leader does not believe a second independence vote will be called any time soon.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has said the turmoil of Brexit would be nothing compared with that of Scotland leaving the UK.
Mr Leonard addressed the UK’s draft EU withdrawal deal and suggestions a second vote on Scottish independence could follow as he marked a year as head of Labour at Holyrood.
He said that during campaigning last year he found many people were “increasingly hostile” to the prospect of another independence referendum, and suggested Nicola Sturgeon was not minded to make the call “any time soon”.
The Central Scotland MSP said there should be a general election, with Labour seeking a mandate to renegotiate the terms of the Brexit deal.
Mr Leonard told Scotland on Sunday: “The turmoil of coming out of an economic relationship which has been in place for 40 years would be nothing compared with the economic turmoil of coming out of a relationship which has lasted 300 years.
“Given the extent to which we are in a highly integrated level of monetary, economic, social and political union with the rest of the UK, I think the challenges would be huge.”
On Brexit, Mr Leonard told the newspaper: “There’s got to be a fresh approach to Brexit. My own view is the best way to achieve that is for there to be a general election.
“What Labour has said is that we are prepared to consider options. The mandate we would seek would, in my view, be a mandate to renegotiate the terms of Brexit.”
To mark one year of Mr Leonard’s leadership, Scottish Labour has launched a digital campaign with a video highlighting the party’s achievements and key policy pledges.
He said: “Over the last year, Scottish Labour has delivered real change in the parliament, such as securing an inquiry into mental health services in NHS Tayside.
“But Labour has also changed the direction of political debate in Scotland, starting a discussion about a wealth tax as part of an agenda to ensure the wealthiest pay their fair share.
“With the Tory Government on the verge of implosion, it is these ideas to radically change Scotland’s economy and society that will carry us into a likely snap general election.”
An SNP spokesman said: “Under Richard Leonard, Labour are continuing to slide in the opinion polls – and no wonder given Labour are every bit as chaotic as the Tories on Brexit.
“Any Brexit scenario is predicted to hit jobs and living standards – so it’s no wonder that people are increasingly looking again at the immense economic opportunities of independence as an alternative to years of uncertainty and chaos as part of the UK.”