Keir Starmer scorns Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘de facto’ independence referendum

Sir Keir Starmer has rejected the idea of ​​the SNP using the upcoming general election as a ‘de facto’ referendum on Scottish independence – Danny Lawson/PA

Sir Keir Starmer has said Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to use the upcoming general election as a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence defies ‘common sense’ as he has made clear he would reject it if he becomes Prime Minister.

The Labor leader has scorned the idea that the Prime Minister could turn an election dealing with a wide range of national issues, such as the cost of living crisis, into a vote on separation.

Speaking during a visit to Scotland, Sir Keir said ‘no talk’ of Ms Sturgeon would change the terms of the election by giving people a choice between a Labor government and a British Conservative government.

He said a Labor government would have its own electoral mandate after the general election to implement the constitutional reforms outlined in its manifesto.

Likewise, he made it clear that he would not consider the Prime Minister to have a mandate to open negotiations with the British government on independence, regardless of the outcome in Scotland.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, having previously rejected Ms Sturgeon’s plan, it would appear to have no chance of success whether Labor or the Conservatives form the next UK government.

However, his rejection of his proposal is particularly significant, given Labour’s dominant lead in the polls and the prospect of him becoming prime minister.

“No clear majority” for a new separation vote

Ms Sturgeon has resorted to claiming the next general election, due in 2024, is a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence after the Supreme Court ruled she had no power to hold her own separation vote next year.

To the dismay of some of her MPs, who fear losing their seats, she has pledged to fight the election on the single issue of separation and then to demand a mandate to open negotiations with the British government if the separatist candidates win more than 50% of the votes. the popular vote in Scotland.

But Gordon Brown, the former prime minister, also rejected the plan – saying Labor would fight the contest on issues including the cost of living, the NHS, jobs and the environment.

He stressed it was a ‘British general election’ and there was ‘no clear and decisive majority’ in opinion polls supporting the organization of another separation vote .

Sir Keir and Mr Brown took part in a joint event in Edinburgh with Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labor leader, launching the party’s broad plan for constitutional reform in the UK.

Sir Keir Starmer with Gordon Brown and Anas Sarwar launch Labour's plan for constitutional reform - Jane Barlow/PA

Sir Keir Starmer with Gordon Brown and Anas Sarwar launch Labour’s plan for constitutional reform – Jane Barlow/PA

The report, by a committee headed by Mr Brown, recommended replacing the House of Lords with an elected ‘Assembly of Nations and Regions’ and giving Holyrood a binding veto over devolved matters.

Sir Keir promised a Labor government would implement the plan and argued that this meant Scottish voters would no longer be faced with the choice of independence or the status quo.

Instead, he pitted the offers from the SNP and the Labor Manifesto saying that ‘change leaving the UK is against change within the UK’.

But he refused to put the proposals to Scottish voters in a referendum, alongside independence, or treat the election as a vote on separation.

Sir Keir said: “This is a general election between continuing the Conservative government or changing it to a Labor government. No amount of discussion between other people will change the terms of a general election.

“That’s what general elections are for – which government do you want to lead on the economy, on international issues or on security, on defence, on the conflict in Ukraine, on health services or on the cost of living, the energy crisis??

“These are not issues that can be reduced by someone else to a completely different constitutional issue. That’s what a general election is all about – all those questions.

“And the idea that all of this is nothing, nobody is interested in these issues, we are discussing something that Nicola Sturgeon defines in this way, it’s just to obstruct the common sense of what is a general election.”

Sir Keir reiterated that “I will not make a deal with the SNP” to enter 10 Downing Street if there is a hung parliament.

“Completely hypocritical” work

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “Labour’s stance is totally hypocritical and only underscores their anti-democratic credentials.

“They will demand a mandate for their constitutional proposals whether Scottish voters approve them or not, and yet they will simultaneously stand with the Tories in blocking the cast iron Democratic mandate that exists for an independence referendum. This position is simply untenable.”