Labour leadership contender Owen Smith has revealed that he won’t stand in the way of a second independence referendum. Mr Smith, who is challenging Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership of the UK Labour party, told BBC Radio Scotland that it was up to the SNP to put any second referendum to the Scottish people.
Mr Smith said: “Well it would be for the SNP to choose to put that to the Scottish people wouldn’t it, and it’s for the Scottish people to determine whether that’s what they want.”
The Labour MP insisted he wanted Scotland to stay within the UK. However when pressed if he himself would oppose any moves to hold a second independence referendum, the Smith replied: “No, of course not.”
The comments echo similar views expressed by Scottish Deputy Labour Alex Rowley who recently said the SNP had won a mandate to hold a second independence referendum, and that he would not oppose such a move.
During his Radio Scotland interview Mr Smith was also asked about key pledges issued by leading Labour figures during the last independence referendum, which were subsequently broken. However, when pressed on pledges such as Scotland’s EU membership being secure with a No vote and the Type 26 shipbuilding contracts, the senior Labour MP claimed the promises had been contingent on having a Labour government at Westminster.
Smith told Good Morning Scotland host Gary Robertson: “I think all those promises Gary were contingent on Labour being in power, and Labour isn’t in power.”
Mr Smith also confirmed that the views of the UK Labour party would always take precedence over those of the Scottish arm on non-devolved areas. Asked specifically what his answer would be to a Scottish Labour call to remove Trident from the Clyde, he replied: “I think my answer would be that it’s Labour party policy across the whole of the UK to retain it.”
Jeremy Corbyn’s rival for the leadership of the Labour party has also pledged to re-run the EU referendum if he wins the contest and is successful in defeating the Conservatives at the next UK election. It is not known if Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale supports this stance.