Politics

Labour’s Ian Murray under fire for asking Westminster to intervene in SNP Government indyref2 policy

LABOUR’S only Scottish MP has been accused of failing to “respect Scottish democracy” after he asked the UK Government’s most senior civil servant to halt Scottish Government officials implementing an SNP manifesto pledge to begin planning for a second independence referendum.

Ian Murray, Labour MP for Edinburgh South, has written to Simon Case, the UK cabinet secretary, asking him to intervene in the Scottish Government policy being implemented by civil servants.

Last week it was revealed that 11 Scottish Government civil servants have been tasked with updating the case for Scottish independence in preparation for a re-run of the 2014 referendum – implementing a commitment in the SNP’s manifesto published ahead of last year’s Holyrood election.

READ MORE: SNP Government paying £700k-a -year civil servants team to update independence ‘prospectus’

A second referendum on independence is a long-held policy of the Scottish Government.

SNP president Mike Russell said that civil servants beginning work on the case for independence was “democracy in action”.

But Mr Murray has taken offence to the news and has written to Mr Case, calling on him to step in and direct Scottish Government civil servants and halt them working on the new prospectus for Scottish independence.

The shadow Scottish secretary said: “The Scottish National Party is of course perfectly entitled to set out its plans for separation, but Scottish taxpayers should not be expected to foot the bill for a prospectus which the majority have already rejected in a national referendum.

“I consider this to be an inappropriate and entirely wasteful use of taxpayers’ money and hope that you will investigate and ultimately reverse this decision.”

But Mr Murray’s intervention has been criticised across the political spectrum.

Former Labour MSP Neil Findlay said that although he does not support independence, “the position Ian Murray has taken is absurd”.

Former Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins has also raised concerns about Mr Murray’s appeal for the UK Government to step in.

READ MORE: Scottish Independence: Ian Murray MP Labour call for civil service chief to halt independence research

He said: “I’m not in favour of Scottish independence and I’d much rather see a Scottish Government with very different priorities, but I don’t understand this.

“Civil servants exist to support their ministers and, like it or not, it is Scot Gov policy to pursue indy via a second indyref.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said Mr Murray’s step was “proving, yet again, that the Labour Party doesn’t respect Scottish democracy and can’t even be trusted to protect the powers Scotland already has”.

He added: “Independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe from Westminster power-grabs and build a fair and European future.”

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