General election 2019: Sturgeon ridicules Corbyn over indyref2 stance


Nicola Sturgeon has predicted Jeremy Corbyn will soon back her call for a Scottish independence vote in 2020.

The SNP leader was responding to further confusion over Mr Corbyn's position on a second Scottish independence referendum.

The Labour leader said on Thursday that indyref2 would not happen in the first two years of his party winning power.

The previous day, he initially told journalists that a referendum would not happen in the first five-year term.

But just hours later, he clarified that a referendum would not be held in the "early years" of a Labour government, with the party's focus instead being on "massive investment" in Scotland.

Mr Corbyn and Scottish Labour have said they will campaign against independence if the issue is put to another referendum.

But a Scottish Labour candidate in a key target seat for the party ahead of the general election told BBC political correspondent Nick Eardley that the "mixed messaging" from Mr Corbyn on the issue was a "disaster" for the party.

And Ms Sturgeon tweeted: "Yesterday it was 'not in the first term'. Today, it's 'not in the first two years'. By the end of the week, at this rate, Corbyn will be demanding #indyref2020".

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The prospect of a second vote on independence and Brexit was discussed at first minister's questions, with the Conservatives also raising questions about the timing of a vote.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she will request a transfer of power from Westminster by the end of this year, with the goal of holding a referendum in the second half of 2020.

But the first minister has also given her support to having another referendum on Brexit next year.

If Labour wins power, it has committed to renegotiating the Brexit deal with the EU, before putting this "credible Leave option" to the public in a fresh vote, up against Remain.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his wife Laura Alvarez (wearing hat) with Labour activists while canvassing in Glasgow on Wednesday evening

Interim Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw asked Ms Sturgeon which vote would come first, saying he was "not sure the first minister has thought through her big double referendum promise".

He said: "When is all this supposed to happen? Both referendums on the one day, or different days? Which vote would come first - indyref, euroref - which?"

Ms Sturgeon replied: "My priority - and I can't believe Jackson Carlaw hasn't actually cottoned on to this yet - my priority is to give the people of Scotland the opportunity to choose independence next year and I look forward to delivering on that."

This led Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie to say Ms Sturgeon had "abandoned Remain voters across the UK", saying this was "hugely disappointing".

He said: "If you are a Remainer in Scotland, you should know that the SNP will twist every vote into an endorsement of independence. Her party will always put independence ahead of anything else."

This evening Jeremy Corbyn will wrap up his trip to Scotland with a rally in Edinburgh. Labour are expecting hundreds of supporters to turn up.

Winning seats in Scotland could be crucial to Mr Corbyn's hopes of getting into Number Ten, but long gone are the days when Labour could rely on definitely returning a healthy number of Scottish MPs.

Despite recent disasters at the polls - including coming FIFTH in the European elections in Scotland - a number of candidates I've spoken to are upbeat and say they're getting decent reception from voters.

But this trip has not gone according to plan for Mr Corbyn.

He has - not for the first time - been unclear about Labour's position on a second independence referendum. Yesterday, he said he wouldn't allow for in his first term (5 years). He then said in the "formative years" of a Labour government. This morning he suggested not in the first two years.

This might all sound a bit like splitting hairs, but some candidates here are worried that not being clear on independence is harming their chances of winning votes from unionists, who helped the party do well in 2017.

One candidate told me earlier Mr Corbyn's comments had been a "bloody disaster". The fear is those who oppose independence will side with the Conservatives or the Lib Dems- while independence supporters will vote SNP.

There's another school of thought though. The leadership in Scotland doesn't think independence will be a key issue on 12 December. They're confident that - over the next month - their focus on ending austerity, investing in the economy and climate change will cut through.

Mr Corbyn said this morning in Midlothian that voters make their decision based on a number of issues. Some in Scottish Labour are desperately hoping independence isn't the main one.

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