• MySTV

Shadow chancellor maintains he would not block indyref2

John McDonnell doubled down on his view despite an angry backlash from Scottish Labour.

John McDonnell
Leon Neal / Getty Images

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has repeated his view that a Labour government would not block a second independence referendum.

The Labour politician doubled down on his controversial remarks on Tuesday in his second Fringe appearance in two days, saying preventing an independence vote would be walking into "a set-up by Nicola Sturgeon".

His latest comments come despite an angry backlash from a number of Labour figures north of the border, with Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray branding them "utterly irresponsible".

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard insists his party still opposes a fresh independence referendum, adding that he met with McDonnell on Wednesday morning to reiterate that view.

The First Minister, meanwhile, has welcomed the shadow chancellor's remarks as a "basic statement of democracy", criticising Scottish Labour's reaction as "inexplicable".

It follows a Lord Ashcroft poll at the start of the week which found, in the days after Boris Johnson's visit to Scotland, that support for independence had risen to 52%.

The survey also suggested a slender majority among Scots for holding a second referendum within the next two years - the timetable Sturgeon has outlined as her preferred choice.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1439811-labour-would-not-block-second-independence-referendum/ | default

Speaking at an Edinburgh Festival Fringe event with journalist Graham Spiers on Wednesday, McDonnell joked: "Boris Johnson visits for a couple of days and within hours support for independence rockets."

He was asked to clarify his earlier remarks on a second independence vote and pressed on if they amounted to a change of Labour policy.

The shadow chancellor said: "Our view is that another independence referendum is irrelevant, we've got to concentrate on the real issues facing people and yes, there will be a debate about the attitude of the UK Parliament and I've made my view clear on that.

"My view is exactly in line with Richard Leonard, which is we concentrate on the real issues, the independence referendum is a complete diversion.

"But I've also said continuously, I'm not being set up by Nicola Sturgeon to blame the UK Government for blocking the will of the Scottish people - that's too trite a political manoeuvre that's been taken on at the moment.

"In the situation we're in at the moment, my view is that we will not be blocking a proposal."

He added: "The best way forward in all of this is to elect a Labour government.

"We'll demonstrate what we can do and then I think the Scottish people won't be interested in another referendum.

"But if they ever do come back, my view is you can't be in a situation where you block it."

'Boris Johnson visits for a couple of days and within hours support for independence rockets.'
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell

McDonnell's comments have provoked fury among several senior figures in the Scottish party after they ran on a manifesto in the 2017 general election against allowing Holyrood the Section 30 powers to hold a new independence referendum.

Speaking to STV News, the Scottish Labour leader said: "I met with John McDonnell this morning to make clear that not only does the Scottish Labour party oppose it, the people of Scotland do not want it.

"What we need to concentrate on inside the Labour party is the election of radical, reforming governments both at a UK level and in Scotland.

"The position of the Scottish Labour party is absolutely clear: we oppose a second independence referendum.

"We've just had one, and the one we just had was a once-in-a-generation referendum."

Leonard added: "In the end, a Labour government will be elected on a Labour manifesto and it's my view that the manifesto that we go into the next general election on will be categorical in saying that we will oppose a second independence referendum.

"That was the platform we stood on in 2017 and I am determined that will be the platform we'll stand on at the time of the next general election."

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1439760-poll-finds-52-of-scots-would-vote-for-independence/ | default

In the wake of the Ashcroft survey, which gave independence the lead for the first time in a major poll since March 2017, the First Minister was in Stirling on Wednesday to open a waste water energy hub.

She told STV: "John McDonnell's remarks were a statement of basic democracy.

"What he said, rightly in my view, is that is for the Scottish Parliament to determine the timing of an independence referendum and for the Scottish people to decide whether or not Scotland becomes independence.

"A Westminster government has every right to oppose and argue against independence but a Westminster government has no right to try to block the right of the Scottish people to decide."

Sturgeon added: "Scottish Labour's reaction to that seems to be an affront of democracy but also perhaps helps to explain why they're in the doldrums in the way they've been for some time."

She welcomed that the polling had "endorsed" her timetable for an independence vote, adding: "The essence of this argument is it's not for Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Nicola Sturgeon, to decide the future of Scotland, it's for the people of Scotland to decide their own future.

"I am confident - I have always been confident - that the people will get that right and no Westminster government will be able to block it."

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.


We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.


Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.


Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.



Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.