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GE 2019: Where do the main parties stand on a second Scottish referendum vote?

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Boris Johnson makes a ‘cast iron’ pledge on IndyRef2

In Depth James Ashford
Friday, November 8, 2019 - 1:11pm

Boris Johnson has made a “cast iron” pledge not to grant the Scottish government a second referendum on independence for the country.

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The Prime Minister insisted he would not allow a vote, even if the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) wins a majority of Scottish seats in the upcoming Westminster election, or a majority in the Holyrood elections of 2021, says The Guardian.

Ministers have confirmed that further legislation would need to be passed by the Scottish parliament at Holyrood before a new independence referendum can be held, says the BBC.

The 2014 Scottish independence referendum was billed as a “once in a generation” vote by Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond.

The Week looks at where the main parties stand on #indyref2.


Labour has said the party “wouldn’t try and stop” a second referendum if a pro-independence majority won power in the 2021 Scottish parliament elections.

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said that Labour wouldn’t agree to a referendum on the matter before that condition was met, says The Scotsman.

“After the next Scottish Government elections, if the Scottish Government determine they want to pursue another referendum and they go through the legislative process within their own government to push that forward, than as a government we wouldn't stand in their way,” Long-Bailey told Sky News.


Speaking on the campaign trail in Scotland yesterday, Johnson said he would not grant Scotland a second independence referendum.

“Absolutely, there is no case whatsoever [for a second referendum] because people were promised in 2014 that it would be a once-in-a-generation event and I see no reason why we should go back on that pledge.”

He added: “It’s perfectly obvious that Jeremy Corbyn is going to rely on the SNP to get him into power, and to do that he’s done a shady deal to have a second referendum.”

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats oppose holding a second Scottish independence referendum.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie made a plea to voters this week, arguing that independence would would “repeat the mistakes of Brexit”, the Evening Express reports.

“By pledging to stop Brexit and in Scotland to stop independence, and dealing with the issues that people face, I think lots and lots of people will be voting Liberal Democrat,” he said.

“We want to stop Brexit, we want to stop independence and build a brighter future.”


SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to hold a second independence referendum in 2020.

But lawmakers at Holyrood have said that any referendum that would alter Scotland’s constitution would need special primary legislation in the Scottish parliament, which could take up to a year to get through, says The Guardian.

The SNP is firmly pro-European Union but is against Scotland staying in a union with the UK. The party says that throughout the Brexit process, Scotland has been treated with “contempt” by Westminster.

“All our efforts to find compromise and protect the interests of the people of Scotland, who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, have been met with a brick wall,” says a statement on the party website.

Green Party

Speaking at the Scottish Green Party conference in Inverness in October, the party’s co-leader Patrick Harvie said independence was “a decision for the Scottish people”, the BBC reports.

“I think Scotland's future is as an independent country, part of the European family of nations,” said Harvie.

While the Scottish Greens are unequivocal in their stance, the Green Party of England and Wales hasn’t announced a clear position.

Former leader Caroline Lucas said in 2013 ahead of the first referendum that she was “very sympathetic to the idea of independence. Moving decision-making closer to the people is a core Green principle.”

Brexit Party

Speaking at a rally in Scotland earlier this year, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage told the crowd: “Even though I’m very unionist, I would say to those voters: unless we get Brexit, you cannot really have an intelligent debate about Scotland’s future.

“Actually, what you ought to do, folks, is at this election lend your votes to the Brexit Party. Let’s get out of the European Union and then have an honest debate about the future of Scotland.”

When asked about comments a candidate had made about “not standing in the way” of a second independence referendum, Farage said: “He said he wouldn’t stand in the way of it, but he also said that – given that it was said at the time that it was a once-in-a-generation vote – it shouldn’t happen for a very long time.”

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