Sir Keir Starmer has reiterated that Labour will campaign against a second Scottish independence referendum in the build-up to next year’s Holyrood elections.
The Labour leader argued there is “no need” for another vote on Scottish independence but sidestepped a question about whether he would ever stand in the way of a vote to break up the UK.
Sir Keir was asked about comments by Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford, who said it would be up to the people of Wales or Scotland to decide whether there should be an independence referendum.
Speaking on LBC radio, he suggested that “no-one in the Labour Party wants the United Kingdom broken up” and the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the value of the Union.
“I strongly support the United Kingdom, I think it’s in all of our interest to hold together the United Kingdom,” he said.
“I think dealing with the pandemic has shown that, so we need to make the case for the United Kingdom.
“Mark Drakeford was making a point about who decides in certain circumstances but no-one in the Labour Party wants the United Kingdom broken up.”
On the issue of whether he would try to prevent an independence vote, Sir Keir said: “We will go into the elections in Scotland making the argument for the Union and making the argument that we don’t need a referendum.
“That election is in May of next year and we’ll make the best case we can between now and then.”
During the interview, Sir Keir said the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill, that ministers have admitted will break international law, is damaging to the country.
Keir Starmer says “the Labour Party will not go along with breaking international law.”
— LBC (@LBC) September 14, 2020
“He (Boris Johnson) is making a mistake reneging on a treaty, that will have reputational damage for the UK,” he said.
“Here we are on the world stage for the first time in many years on our own and what’s the first thing we do? We break a treaty.
“It’s basic stuff – if you say to other nations we agree something and a few months later you say no we don’t, the chances are they aren’t going to trust you going forward.”
Asked what the Prime Minister needs to do to get Labour support for the Bill, Sir Keir said: “I do think we need legislation on an internal market and we would support that if the Government took away these problems, didn’t breach international law and act in this way.
“I would say to the Prime Minister, look, go away, go back to the drawing board, drop these problems, don’t act in this reckless and wrong way and we’ll look again at the legislation.”