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Watson: Another independence referendum is not the answer

Labour's deputy leader said another referendum is not the answer to Tory austerity and Brexit.

Labour: Deputy leader Tom Watson has spoken out against a second Scottish independence referendum.
Labour: Deputy leader Tom Watson has spoken out against a second Scottish independence referendum. Getty Images

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has spoken out against a second Scottish independence referendum, after shadow chancellor John McDonnell said a future Labour government would not block another vote.

Mr Watson said another referendum "is not the answer" to Tory austerity and Brexit, and fully endorsed the position of Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard.

His intervention comes after Mr McDonnell told an audience in Edinburgh last week that any decision about holding an independence vote would be up to the Scottish Parliament.

And it follows a warning by ex-Labour prime minister Gordon Brown, who said unionism "appears to be sleepwalking into oblivion".

In a video released on Sunday, Mr Watson 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.

"Last year Richard Leonard our Scottish leader said: 'We want to be absolutely clear to the people of Scotland that there is no case for a second independence referendum'.

"'We just had a referendum in 2014. We think that settled the will of the people of Scotland'.

"I want to endorse the statement from our independently elected leader of the Labour party in Scotland."

Mr Watson goes on to say: "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."

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