Scotland: Government should 'stop fighting' referendum says expert
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Scotland will eventually have to be granted a second independence referendum, a commentator has claimed, and the Conservative Government should stop “fighting” against it. Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee said she “desperately wants the Scots not to go” but acknowledged that “you cannot say no indefinitely”. She added that she believed if Labour is to win a majority at the next General Election, Sir Keir Starmer should allow the Scottish National Party to hold a referendum because Scots will be more incentivised to vote to stay in the United Kingdom under a Labour Government.
Ms Toynbee said: “I desperately want the Scots not to go. I shall be very sad if they do go. But at some point or another we are going to have to give them another referendum.
“I do not know what that tipping is but what is the point in going on fighting against a referendum, you can’t say no indefinitely.
“If I were Labour winning a big majority next time, I would give them about two months and go for it right away.
“I would do this on the grounds that once you have got a Labour government in London, a lot of the wavering voters in Scotland might be a lot less likely to vote for independence.”
Ms Toynbee’s confidence in the Labour Party being a vital draw away from splitting up the United Kingdom was echoed by the opposition.
According to political commentator Paul Waugh, a source within the Labour Party told him “Scots like to back a winner” and polls suggest Sir Keir Starmer is just that.
Mr Waugh wrote: “One key insider tells me that the poll to watch is that which asks Scots who they think will be the next PM.
“And from only 7 per cent thinking Starmer would form a Government in 2020, that figure was recently 49 per cent. ‘That’s the game-changer for us,’ they say. ‘Scots like to back a winner.’”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s hopes of pushing through a referendum with Labour’s help also appear beyond plausible.
Following the Supreme Court decision against Scotland’s ability to hold IndyRef2 without Westminster’s consent, Sir Keir ruled out a coalition with the SNP.
The Labour leader issued a categorical denial that he would endorse any agreement whereby SNP MPs would support his government in return for him allowing another separation vote.
His rejection of any deal “with a party that wants to break up the United Kingdom” appeared to leave Ms Sturgeon’s independence strategy in disarray.
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Scottish Conservative Party chairman Craig Hoy has also accused Ms Sturgeon of “behaving more like an ultra-nationalist than the first minister”.
The Conservatives and Labour have rejected that idea of a de facto referendum, arguing that general elections are fought on a range of issues and not just the constitution.
But Ms Sturgeon has claimed that the independence campaign has been “strengthened” by the Supreme Court judgement, while her political rivals insist the ruling should mean issues like the NHS and the cost of living crisis must now be her priority.
Speaking ahead of a pro-independence march last Saturday, Ms Sturgeon said: “Wednesday’s judgment from the Supreme Court has galvanised the Yes movement right across Scotland. Thousands of people took to the streets – in freezing Scottish winter weather – to demonstrate their support for Scottish democracy.”
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