Labour split on Scottish independence deepens as Tom Watson hits out at second referendum

Posted On: 
12th August 2019

Labour’s split on a second Scottish independence referendum has deepened after the party's deputy leader Tom Watson spoke out against it.

Tom Watson has directly contradicted John McDonnell on Scottish independence
Credit: 
PA Images

His comments are in direct contradiction to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who triggered a row in Labour's ranks by claiming the party would not block another vote if they won power.

Mr Watson released a video on social media on Sunday night backing the Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, saying another referendum "is not the answer”.

He said: "We can see the mess caused by the prospect of the UK leaving the four decade-long union with Europe - imagine how much more disruptive it would be to break our three centuries-long Union of Scotland within the UK.

The Labour deputy added: "As we said in our 2017 manifesto, Labour opposes another referendum and the turbo-charged austerity in Scotland that leaving the UK would cause, with the inevitable threat to thousands of jobs and livelihoods.

"That is not because our society doesn't need to change. It does, and badly.

"Almost a decade of austerity has left our public services on their knees and Brexit has damaged our economy and divided our communities. The future is uncertain.

"But another independence referendum isn't the answer. More nationalism, more uncertainty, and more division isn't the answer."

 

 

His intervention comes after Mr McDonnell said of another potential referendum: "We would not block something like that. We would let the Scottish people decide. That's democracy.

"There are other views within the party but that's our view.”

He was criticised by people within Labour, including the MP Ian Murray who said he was “shocked and angry”.

And former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the Shadow Chancellor had fallen into a “nationalist trap”.