Politics

Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson ‘joined at the hip’ in independence obsession, says Sir Keir Starmer

Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson are “joined at the hip,” Keir Starmer is expected to tell delegates at the Scottish Labour conference.

He is set to use his speech today to criticise the two governments for turning every election into a referendum on independence.

Because of the pandemic, it’s Scottish Labour’s first conference since 2019, and the first opportunity Sir Keir has had to address the party faithful since replacing Jeremy Corbyn two years ago.

In his speech, the UK Labour leader will look to put some distance between him and his predecessor, pledging a more business-friendly focus for the party.

He is also expected to criticise the recent ScotWind bidding round, accusing the SNP of “selling Scotland’s offshore wind to every foreign energy interest imaginable.”

He is expected to say: “Labour in power is always power exercised in partnership with the people.

“But because this government is so distracted it has no plan for household finances and no economic planning at all.

“And I ask you, what do these Tories and the SNP have in common? Well, beyond being joined at the hip in their desire to see every election turned into the same referendum again, and again.

“They have no industrial strategy that is good enough to meet the challenge of our age. Neither have the credible policies we need to create and sustain decent jobs.

“Decades in power between them and neither of these governments have done enough to secure the jobs and industries of the future on our shores.

“The so-called party of British business is barely able to talk to business. Whilst the party of North Sea nationalism is now selling Scotland’s offshore wind to every foreign energy interest imaginable. “

“We have a new opportunity now. To have a Labour government that will be in partnership with business to create work.

“Instead of a Tory government that treats British business with disdain, disinterest and disrespect. Because Labour is the party of work, we always have been.

“There is no challenge ahead of us, whether automation or climate change, that we cannot rise to.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “Keir Starmer has proven once again that he’s every bit as out of touch with Scotland as Boris Johnson.

“It is the SNP who stands up for the people of Scotland in opposing the Tories’ deeply damaging Brexit that we didn’t vote for, while Labour became its midwives.

“And it’s Labour councillors that are bedfellows with the Tories in Aberdeen and North Lanarkshire – so Sir Keir might want to get his own house in order before hurling baseless insults at others.

“While Labour slide further into irrelevance after suffering their worst election defeat in the history of devolution in May, the SNP will get on with delivering for the people of Scotland.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “Scottish Labour are currently in coalition with the SNP in six councils across Scotland. In Wales, Labour have struck an even closer deal with the nationalist party. If anyone is joined at the hip, it’s Labour and nationalists across the UK.”

Sir Keir’s speech comes as a new poll suggests only a third of Scots want a vote on independence within two years and the country is still evenly divided on the constitution, with 51 per cent backing the union, and 49% supporting independence.

The Savanta-ComRes survey for The Economist found a third of Scots felt it would be wrong for the Supreme Court to decide whether a referendum can take place.

It also found that the majority of voters were certain about their view on Scotland’s place in the UK.

On a scale of zero (not certain at all) to ten (absolutely certain), only 10% gave a score of less than six.

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