Jeremy Corbyn attacks 'mischievous misreporting' over Scottish independence referendum remarks

Posted On: 
13th March 2017

Jeremy Corbyn today blamed “mischievous misreporting” for the confusion about his stance on a second referendum on Scottish independence, as he clarified he is opposed to another vote. 

Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale in Glasgow
Credit: 
PA Images

Mr Corbyn told the Press Association on Saturday that another referendum was “absolutely fine” and “should be held”.

But the Labour leader said his comments were referring to a scenario where the Scottish Parliament had voted for the plebiscite, and that he was merely reaffirming the position of Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale that Westminster should not block Holyrood’s will.

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He also warned that independence would be “economically catastrophic” for Scots because of the economy’s reliance on the price of oil.

A number of Labour MPs reacted angrily to the original referendum remarks, with Ian Murray, the party’s only MP with a Scottish constituency, accusing Mr Corbyn of “destroying the party”.

Speaking to the Today programme about the furore this morning, Mr Corbyn suggested those criticising him had not heard the context of his comments.  

“There was a bit of mischievous misreporting going on there,” he said.

“I was asked if in Westminster we would block the holding of a referendum. I said no, if the Scottish Parliament decided they wanted to have a referendum then it would be wrong for Westminster to block it.”

He added: “There is no ambiguity whatsoever and those that are seeking mischief better go and seek it elsewhere.”

‘TURBO-CHARGED AUSTERITY’

The row comes amid mounting speculation that Nicola Sturgeon will call another independence referendum.

The First Minister will make a statement this morning on the Article 50 process, with some rumours that she could issue an ultimatum demanding a special status for Scotland in the negotiations or call another vote.

Ms Sturgeon has said another referendum is “highly likely” as a result of the decision to leave the European Union.

But Mr Corbyn returned to the economic arguments – which formed the centrepiece of the victorious No campaign in 2014 – to argue against Scotland leaving the Union.

He told Today: “Just to be absolutely clear, I do not think there should be another referendum; I think that independence would be economically catastrophic for many people in Scotland.

"It would lead to a sort of turbo-charged austerity with the levels of income the government has in Scotland because of the very low oil prices and the high dependency on oil tax income.”

A similar argument was put forward by former Labour chancellor Lord Darling, who said on Radio 4: “Brexit in my view is bad enough.

"But to compound that with cutting Scotland off with 70% of its market when you still haven’t resolved the big issues like the fact the oil price has plummeted and we don’t know about the currency and so on, that would make a bad situation worse.”

A new poll of Scots for the Herald puts support for independence at 48%, up from the 45% who voted for independence two-and-a-half years ago.