Scotland politics

Former Scottish Labour leader Murphy predicts a second referendum

Jim Murphy Image copyright PA
Image caption Jim Murphy has step down as Scottish Labour leader after six months in the post

The former leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Jim Murphy, has predicted that there will be another independence referendum "whenever the SNP can get away with it."

In his last speech before leaving frontline politics, Mr Murphy said he feared Prime Minister David Cameron would "stumble into" another referendum.

Mr Murphy, speaking at the Policy Exchange in London, said: "If you were an insurgent Nationalist party with unprecedented power and with an absolute majority of parliamentarians in both parliaments why wouldn't you try and engineer certain circumstances that get you another referendum."

He said it would not be a political party but the Scottish public who would "save Scotland from the SNP."

At the May general election, Labour lost 40 of its 41 Scottish constituencies to the SNP, including Mr Murphy's East Renfrewshire seat.

Mr Murphy announced his intention to resign last month, despite narrowly winning a confidence vote in the wake of his party's electoral defeat.

'I was wrong'

A contest for his successor is now under way at the same time as the UK party seeks a new leader following Ed Miliband's resignation.

Mr Murphy refused to say who he would vote for in either leadership election, but he predicted it "wouldn't be Jeremy Corbyn".

He said Labour's defeat in May was not "all Ed Miliband's fault" despite their "private differences" but said the leadership election "shouldn't be about who can run furthest from Ed Miliband. But about who can travel fastest towards the British people".

Mr Murphy said he was "not attracted" to the idea of a "trapdoor" which some are calling for to oust the new party leader ahead of the next election if they are not performing - because it would be "destabilising" from day one.

The former MP said he had been "wrong" not to work closer with colleagues like Ed Balls, the former shadow chancellor, and said it was time to move on from "old divisions borne of the mid-1990s."

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