NICOLA Sturgeon’s support for a Brexit referendum is a “wake up call” for Scottish Labour and a failure to follow suit could have damaging electoral consequences, according to a party peer.
Lord Adonis, a prominent supporter of a “people’s vote” on the final Brexit deal, also called on Richard Leonard’s party to persuade UK Labour to back the policy.
He added that such a show of leadership would demonstrate that Scottish Labour is not a “branch office” – a jibe coined by former party chief Johann Lamont.
Although the UK voted to leave the European Union, over 60% of voters north of the border backed staying in the EU.
Three political parties in Scotland – the Liberal Democrats, Greens and the SNP – support another referendum, but Scottish Labour is lukewarm.
UK party leader Jeremy Corbyn is sceptical about another vote and Mr Leonard is said to be reluctant to carve out a distinctive Scottish position.
Lord Adonis, who served as a Minister in the Blair and Brown Governments, has been in Scotland to talk about what he regards as the merits of a final vote.
In an article for the Herald on Sunday, he wrote that his own party had “failed to provide the necessary leadership” on Brexit and is stuck in a “position of nothingness”.
He argued: “Across the UK, Labour is in danger of alienating our voters, supporters and members by looking like followers on Brexit rather than the leaders people expect us to be. Nowhere is that more true than here in Scotland.”
He urged Scottish Labour to make “common cause” against Brexit alongside the SNP, Lib Dems and the Greens:
“There is a historic opportunity for Scottish Labour to show that – far from being a ‘branch office’ – it can inspire the party across the UK and change UK-wide policy.”
The peer added: “Nicola Sturgeon’s big, bold offer to trust voters in Scotland and beyond on Brexit is a wake up call to Scottish Labour. But it is also an opportunity. Scottish Labour now needs to step up and stand up for the voters – and the nation.”
Peter Grant MP, SNP spokesperson on Exiting the EU, said: “The Labour Party are still in total disarray when it comes to their policy on Brexit. It’s no wonder that they cannot be taken seriously as a credible opposition to the Tories when their wake up calls come from unelected politicians from their own party in the House of Lords.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tavish Scott said:
“We know a sizeable majority of Labour supporters in Scotland don’t agree with the party’s pro-Brexit policy. Polls show they back a vote on the deal and want to stay in the EU.
“Kezia Dugdale and Ian Murray back a vote on the deal. Are there no other Scottish Labour politicians willing to do the right thing and join the Liberal Democrats in campaigning for people to have the final say, and the opportunity to Exit from Brexit?”
A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “As Lord Adonis should be aware, Labour conference passed a motion which keeps the option of a People’s Vote on the table. If MPs can’t agree on whatever deal the Prime Minister comes back with, then we must have an immediate general election. If there isn’t a General Election, our position is that all options should remain on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.”
Source : HeraldScotland