Kezia Dugdale laments Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘clumsy’ independence referendum remark

Posted On: 
19th March 2017

Kezia Dugdale has lamented Jeremy Corbyn's “clumsy” remark appearing to welcome a second independence referendum - but insisted he would still be an asset to the pro-union campaign.

Jeremy Corbyn and Kezia Dugdale in Edinburgh
Credit: 
PA Images

Mr Corbyn sparked anger among his colleagues by saying it would be “absolutely fine” for Scotland to hold another vote, before blaming "mischievous reporting" for the row.

But speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Kezia Dugdale said Mr Corbyn now understands his phrasing was a “clumsy use of language”.

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“I was surprised, because it was a clumsy phrase. Jeremy Corbyn and I are absolutely united on this issue,” she continued.

“When you hear him talk about independence and the damage it would do, it is so compelling and so persuasive because he makes the case that the difference between what Scots raise in taxes and what we spend in our public services is £15bn.

“So if we were independent that’s £15bn we would no longer have to spend on our schools and hospitals. So as much as Jeremy is angry at Tory austerity today, he understands that with independence we’ve have turbo charged austerity. That’s why he’s so against independence and why we’ll be campaigning together against it.”

Scottish Labour has said a second vote on independence should not be held until after the UK has left the European Union.

A YouGov for the Times this week showed Mr Corbyn has a net satisfaction rating of -56% north of the border, compared to Theresa May’s -10%.

But despite the poor polling Ms Dugdale insisted the veteran is an "asset" in Scotland.

“He’s a very powerful advocate for the type of policy he advocates that speaks to a particular group of voters. And that’s why he’s an asset to this campaign,” she said.

WHO SHOULD LEAD THE PRO-UNION CAMPAIGN?

This morning both Ms Dugdale and Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Tories, insisted they would play a leading role in the pro-union movement at another referendum.

The Scottish Labour leader said it is clear that after the Brexit vote the campaign would not be led by “one particular politician” and instead a collection of public figures.

“I think what might be much better is having a voice from business, or a voice from the trade unions or indeed a particular kind of popular figure from civic or cultural life. I don’t yet know who that is, you cant really blame me given this campaign is just days old for that,” she said.

“But I certainly intend to play a prominent role in that campaign, but I’ll be making a Labour case for remaining a part of the United Kingdom, and it will be one rooted in how we resolve poverty and inequality in this country, and one that will expose the false hope that the SNP offer.”

Ms Davidson told the same show: “There’s going to be plenty of people that lead right across the country - I’m sure I will be one of them.

“I will not be sitting holding the jackets at the back, I’ll be making sure that I’m putting my points down the front. But this isn’t just about politicians, this is about the people of Scotland.

“Our whole country voted in 2014, and we spoke pretty loudly and pretty clearly that we wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom. And Nicola Sturgeon unilaterally can’t take that away from us.”