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McDonnell: No indyref2 in early years of Labour government

He also ruled out a deal with the SNP for indyref2 in exchange for supporting Corbyn in Number 10.

John McDonnell: 'Proper mandate' needed for indyref2. <strong>Leon Neal / Getty Images</strong>
John McDonnell: 'Proper mandate' needed for indyref2. Leon Neal / Getty Images

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has suggested his party would not sanction a second independence referendum “in the early years of a Labour government”.

McDonnell previously said he would not support Parliament blocking a fresh independence vote – a statement which caused a rift with Scottish Labour.

But despite repeating that view, the shadow chancellor said allowing a new independence referendum would “not be a priority for us” and that it would require a “proper mandate in Scotland”.

The Labour MP’s stance clashes with Nicola Sturgeon’s, who is planning an independence poll for the latter half of 2020.

The First Minister insists she obtained a mandate to hold a referendum in 2016, when the SNP won re-election as a minority government at Holyrood with a pledge to hold indyref2 if Scotland was forced out of the EU against its wishes.

The shadow chancellor also ruled out any deals with the SNP to prop up a potential Labour minority government in exchange for allowing a new independence vote.

At the Edinburgh Fringe in August, he was criticised by many in Scottish Labour for contradicting the party’s policy against allowing a referendum.

McDonnell said it should be “up to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people” to decide if a vote should be held, and therefore he would not support blocking a request for Section 30 powers from Scottish ministers to conduct a referendum.

Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, the shadow chancellor restated that view but added: “That’s not a deal, that’s my personal view I’ve expressed.

“That’s not doing a deal, that’s my position, but we’re not doing deals with anyone.

“When we go into the next election, I believe we will have a majority, but if we are in a minority, we will be a minority government, we won’t do coalitions, we will expect (other parties) to support the party.

“If we’re in a minority position, we’ll form a government and the other opposition parties can vote for the policies we’re advocating and if they don’t, we’ll go back to the people.”

He continued: “I don’t think it’s up to the UK Parliament to block a referendum.

“I don’t think there should be another referendum, I think Scotland should stay united within the United Kingdom.

“It would not be a priority for us, we’ve got enough to deal with, with climate change, austerity, et cetera.

“Certainly it wouldn’t be in the early years of a Labour government and there would have to be a proper mandate in Scotland – the Scottish people themselves would have to decide.”

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