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Richard Leonard to tell conference SNP are not Labour “allies”.

RICHARD Leonard is to warn delegates at this weekend’s Labour conference against making “allies” of the SNP after Jeremy Corbyn’s latest gaffe on the constitution.

The Scottish Labour leader will today issue a briefing note on opposition to independence, saying the SNP’s Growth Commission is simply a recipe for continued Tory-style austerity.

It follows Mr Corbyn blundering over his party’s position on independence on Thursday.

Despite Scottish Labour’s “cast iron guarantee” against ending the Union at the last election, Mr Corbyn said he was “not ruling out” another referendum if he become Prime Minister.

He told the BBC he would “decide at the time” whether to grant Holyrood the required temporary powers to hold a referendum, if, as they did last year, MSPs voted for them.

However he also said he didn’t want a referendum.

His comments, which echoed a previous departure from the Scottish party line last year, prompted Tory claims that Labour was “utterly weak” on the Union.

Mr Leonard is due to address an activist rally at the UK Labour conference in Liverpool tomorrow night and give the Scotland report to delegates on Monday.

He said the SNP’s Growth Commission, its revised economic blueprint for independence, offered a vision of Scotland that people didn’t want and couldn’t afford.

The document proposes a decade of tight public spending to halve Scotland’s deficit.

Mr Leonard said: “It is a prospectus based on a hard decade of public spending contraction, and even deeper cuts than those implemented by George Osborne.

“Proposing a separate Scotland seeking to use the pound informally is a recipe for instability and is the economics of dereliction.

“This prospectus for independence is not built on sovereignty regained but on sovereignty lost: on interest rates, mortgage rates, inflation, and corporation tax policy.

“And it is based on an economic model which relies heavily on foreign direct investment, large multinational corporations and labour market flexicurity.

“That is not the sort of future the people of Scotland want. We need now to stop dividing people on the basis of nationality and start uniting them on the basis of class.”

Scottish Tory deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said Mr Leonard needed to clarify whether he shared Mr Corbyn’s position on another referendum.

He said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s weak admission that he wants the SNP to have another independence vote is a direct contradiction of Labour’s 2017 manifesto.

“Richard Leonard has to now clarify what his party’s position on this vital matter is.

“Is he going to stand up for the majority of Scots who want to keep the UK together, or is he too afraid to go against the wishes of his boss in London? He needs to get on the phone to Jeremy Corbyn, and tell him to toughen up his stance straight away.”

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie said Mr Corbyn was making “all the wrong calls” on independence – and on Brexit, by ignoring demands for a People’s Vote.

He said: “Jeremy Corbyn seems totally out of touch in Scotland. He’s making all the wrong calls on both Brexit and independence.

“He’s fanning the flames of the nationalist movement at just the moment when all opposition parties should be banding together against a Conservative hard Brexit.”

Source : HeraldScotland

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