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Anas Sarwar told to follow Welsh counterpart in backing Scottish indyref – SNP

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has called for enhanced devolution as an alternative to an independence referendum. (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has called for enhanced devolution as an alternative to an independence referendum. (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Scottish Labour must follow their Welsh counterparts in backing an independence referendum, an SNP MSP has said.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced plans to hold a second referendum on October 19 next year.

A referendum bill has been referred to the UK Supreme Court to determine whether Holyrood has the power to put the question to Scots.

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour leader has previously criticised the push for a second vote – after a majority of Scots voted against independence in 2014.

But the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has now backed the Scottish Government’s calls for an independence referendum.

The SNP “won an election on the basis they would seek another referendum”, the Welsh Labour leader told BBC Radio 4 on Friday.

“How can that be denied to the Scottish people?”

Now Paul McLennan, SNP MSP for East Lothian, said Mr Sarwar was at odds with his Welsh counterpart by denying the mandate for a second independence referendum.

He said: “Respecting the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland should not be ground-breaking, but Mark Drakeford has set himself apart from democracy deniers Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer by recognising the cast-iron mandate delivered for a referendum.

“Anas Sarwar’s democracy-denying position has been laid bare once again by the Welsh First Minister.

“If Labour in Wales recognise the democratic will of the people of Scotland, why won’t Scottish Labour?”

First Minister Mark Drakeford
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford backed Scottish independence (Welsh Government/PA)

He accused Mr Sarwar’s party of “standing side by side” with the Conservatives by refusing to back a referendum.

“There is no doubt at the mandate delivered for a referendum and the people of Scotland will have their say and the chance to escape the chaos of Westminster control and build a fairer, more equal independent country.”

Earlier this month, Mr Sarwar outlined a vision for enhanced devolution and co-operation between the UK and Scottish Governments as an alternative to independence.

Scottish Labour Constitution spokeswoman Sarah Boyack said: “Contrary to the SNP’s spin, most Scots don’t want a referendum next year.

“People want the Scottish Government to focus on tackling the cost-of-living crisis and saving our struggling NHS.

“While the SNP peddle division and empty promises, Scottish Labour are fighting to build a better future for Scotland using the powers we have right now.”

Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: “Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer speak for the Labour Party in Scotland and the UK and are clear – no deals and no referendum.

“We will never dance to the tune of those who seek to divide Britain.

“Any politician who thinks the answer to the problems our country faces after 12 years of Tory government is to put up borders between us is wrong.”