Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has long been campaigning for a second Scottish independence referendum and claims her party’s landslide election win in Scotland last December gives a renewed mandate for another vote. But Boris Johnson is steadfast in his opposition to another poll, and has repeatedly ruled out approving a second referendum. Now, it appears new Labour leader Keir Starmer is also against Scotland holding another poll.
Ian Murray, Labour’s newly appointed shadow Scotland secretary, has revealed Sir Keir opposes a second independence referendum.
The Edinburgh South MP, the only Labour member to hold a seat in Scotland, also said the party needed to be clear on its position on Scottish independence – after Jeremy Corbyn’s much-criticised stance on the subject.
The former Labour leader repeatedly switched his stance on the matter, first ruling out a second vote and then suggesting he could back a new independence vote in the future.
But Mr Murray told the PA news agency Sir Keir has already adopted a clear approach.
He said: “Keir has been pretty clear on all of this stuff, and to be fair so has (Scottish Labour leader) Richard (Leonard), that we’re against independence, we’re against a second independence referendum.
“I’ve been touring the whole of the country during the deputy leadership campaign making that case that a Labour government runs through Scotland, that we have to be clear on our principles of why we’re against independence, that we shouldn’t facilitate the means if we disagree with the ends.
“In terms of a second independence referendum, that there is no mandate, trying to challenge some of that story that other people are telling and trying to manipulate the mandate issue.
“And been pretty clear that the Labour Party in Scotland can only really start to achieve something when people in Scotland believe that we believe what we’re saying in terms of independence and I think we’ve just got to be clear on that.
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“I know that Keir and Gordon Brown have spent a lot of time with each other trying to go through some of that constitutional stuff, there is no doubt that federalism and the constitutional convention which Gordon, myself and people like George Foulkes have been working on for many years now is now right at the top of Keir’s agenda.”
Mr Murray had previously held the position of shadow Scottish secretary, between May 2015 to June 2016.
But he quit the role in protest over the leadership of Mr Corbyn.
When he was reappointed by Sir Keir earlier this week, Mr Murray said the new leader “understands that Labour’s road back to power runs directly through Scotland”.
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The Labour Party was all but decimated in Scotland after the 2015 general election, where the party lost 40 of its 41 seats.
Mr Murray said the party needed to shift its focus back to Scotland, as he described the notion of a second independence referendum as “poisonous”.
He said: “We’re now six years on from the referendum almost and we’re still talking about it and it’s still poisonous and it’s still paralysing the entirety of Scottish politics.
“So the challenge is great. The big positives now, as opposed to then, is the entirety of the UK Labour movement now understands the importance of Scotland, not just to the UK Labour Party, but to the Scottish Labour party as well, and understands why Scotland needs to get back on the park.
“And if we all have that thought at the forefront of our minds then we’ve got an opportunity to do something about it.”
He added: “So I think that’s the step change is people have now absolutely grasped how important Scotland’s become for the UK Labour Party.”
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