JEREMY Corbyn agrees with Theresa May that there should not be a second Scottish independence referendum before Brexit, Kezia Dugdale has made clear as she claimed Nicola Sturgeon had made a major shift on her desired timing of so-called indyref2.
The Scottish Labour leader claimed the wording of Nicola Sturgeon’s Holyrood motion – to be debated by MSPs over two days from today - showed the First Minister had made a “significant concession” on the timing of another poll; namely, she was “no longer wedded or tied to the idea that it would happen before the UK left the EU”.
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The SNP leader stressed Scots must be given an alternative to the Prime Minister’s "hard Brexit", which will take the UK out of both the European Union and the single market.
Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, made clear Tory MSPs would vote against the motion. She said staging another vote on Scotland’s future would be the "wrong course of action to take", insisting a "clear majority of Scots say they don't want to go through the uncertainty of another referendum at this time"
Ms Dugdale, at Westminster to address the Parliamentary Labour Party, stressed how she and her colleagues would also vote against the SNP leadership’s call for a second independence poll, which Mr Sturgeon has said she wants before April 2019 when a Brexit deal is due to be concluded.
The Scottish party leader explained how when Labour MSPs vote against holding another poll, they will be maintaining their manifesto commitment to oppose one in the lifetime of this parliament.
“What we have said UKwide is that we would not seek to block a second independence referendum; although we are also very clear…we couldn’t support or even have any idea of that second referendum until after Brexit because only at that point[would we know] what that choice was.”
It was pointed out how last week Mr Corbyn’s spokesman said the UK party leader’s view was that if Holyrood voted for another independence poll at any time, then Westminster should not block it.
Asked if there was a disagreement between her and Mr Corbyn - who caused waves when he said indyref2 would be "absolutely fine" - Ms Dugdale declared they were “in exactly the same place on this issue. I spoke to him on a number of occasions last week…We are now in a position where we cannot possibly consider an independence referendum before Brexit”.
She added: “You will hear a lot about the will of the Scottish Parliament after the vote on Wednesday. There are at least five occasions where Nicola Sturgeon has ignored the will of the Scottish Parliament…So I will take any suggestion that the will of Parliament should be accepted with a pinch of salt after the vote on Wednesday.”
But when Mr Corbyn’s office was approached, it made clear he had not changed his position.
Asked, if MSPs voted this week to have a second independence poll before Brexit, should Westminster block it, the party leader’s spokesman replied: “It would be wrong for Westminster to block it but the Labour Party opposes a second referendum.”
Meantime, Ms Dugdale focused on the precise wording of Ms Sturgeon’s motion, which said a second poll “would most appropriately be between the autumn of 2018, when there is clarity over the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, and around the point at which the UK leaves the EU in spring 2019”.
The Labour MSP picked up on the phrase “around the point at which,” as suggesting the FM had moved her timeframe beyond Brexit.
She said: “The FM said around spring of 2019, so she is no longer wedded or tied to the idea that it would happen before the UK left the EU; that’s a very significant concession and points to the fact that any future referendum is now likely to happen post Brexit.”
As Holyrood, thanks to a combination of Nationalist and Green votes, is expected to grant Ms Sturgeon a mandate to seek a parliamentary order from Theresa May to hold another independence vote, Wednesday will be another constitutional flashpoint because the Prime Minister will refuse to give one.
Last week, Mrs May made clear “now is not the time” to hold a second poll on Scotland’s future; that is, before Brexit happens. Indeed, Whitehall insiders believe there will not be one any time before the next Scottish parliamentary elections in May 2021.
Expectations are growing that the PM will meet the FM just days before Article 50 is triggered next Wednesday.