LABOUR shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has thrown a political bomb into the middle of the Labour Party with his pledge to the Scottish Nationalists that a future Labour government will give the go-ahead for a Scottish referendum on leaving the UK.
In an interview at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, he said any decision about holding a vote would be up to the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said earlier this year that the party would refuse to grant Holyrood the power to hold another vote.
In March, Richard Leonard told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland that if Labour took power in Westminster the party would refuse to grant a Section 30 order.
He added: ‘What we said in the manifesto at the 2017 election was that there is no case for, and we would not support, a second independence referendum.’
McDonnell said: ‘The Scottish Parliament will come to a considered view on that and they will submit that to the government and the English Parliament itself.
‘If the Scottish people decide they want a referendum that’s for them.’
His party colleague Ian Murray, the MP for Edinburgh South, commented, ‘These are utterly irresponsible comments from John McDonnell that betray our party’s values,’ he said.
However, in a post on Twitter, Nicola Sturgeon said the Shadow Chancellor’s position was ‘basic democracy’.
She added that it made ‘political sense’ as polls suggested 40% of Labour voters support independence.
However, McDonnell also brought Jeremy Corbyn’s fate into his equation when he revealed the essence of the current hullabaloo about bringing down the Johnson government and replacing it with a government of national unity to stop Brexit on October 31, by any means necessary.
On Corbyn, McDonnell said the Labour leader would ‘never’ step down, if other opposition parties demanded it, as a condition for a coalition of national unity.
He said: ‘It won’t happen. I think we’d form a minority government, seek to implement our manifesto and we’d expect the other opposition parties and other MPs to vote for those policies and if they don’t we’ll go back to the country.
‘If they want to vote against a real living wage, if they want to vote against £70bn worth of investment in Scottish infrastructure, if they want to vote against a green industrial revolution to tackle climate change, then so be it, we’ll go back to the people and then let them explain to the people why they wouldn’t support those policies.
‘We want to change the world, we’re not going be held back by other parties.’
Despite the bravado, a pact with the SNP would wipe out Scottish Labour, while a Corbyn-led national government would not be tolerated by Tories, LibDems and many Labour MPs.
McDonnell is offering himself up as a man that is available to be told that it is his national duty to sacrifice Corbyn and to take the reins himself – for the good of the country, of course.