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Cole-Hamilton: Lib Dems could work with other parties to boost case for union

Alex Cole-Hamilton has vowed to fight against a second Scottish independence referendum (PA)
Alex Cole-Hamilton has vowed to fight against a second Scottish independence referendum (PA)

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has not ruled out teaming up with other political parties against independence.

The Edinburgh Western MSP has vowed to fight “tooth and nail” to stop a second referendum, as he insisted First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s heart is not in the fight for another vote.

That could see him partner with fellow pro-union parties such as Labour or the Conservatives.

The move could be similar to The Vow – which saw former UK party leaders David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg collaborate to develop a pro-union strategy ahead of the 2014 referendum.

Alex Cole-Hamilton
Alex Cole-Hamilton claimed Nicola Sturgeon’s heart is not in the fight for another independence vote (PA)

The Scottish Government plans to stage a second referendum on independence on October 19, 2023, depending on the outcome of a Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the vote.

It has been opposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has said a Section 30 order, which would grant the powers to hold a referendum, would be refused.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “First of all I hope there’s not going to be a referendum. I will fight tooth and nail to stop it happening because it gets in the way.

“I will always make the case for Scotland’s positive future in a reformed United Kingdom.

“I recognise there are problems with the status quo but we don’t solve those problems by getting rid of that union.

“Of course I’ll stand shoulder to shoulder, as I have done particularly with people like Mr (Anas) Sarwar and the Labour Party, to make a strong case for a more positive vision in a reformed United Kingdom.”

He also took aim at the First Minister’s reasons for announcing her plans for another referendum.

He said: “We need our Government to focus on the issues that matter to people.

“I don’t even think Nicola Sturgeon’s heart is really in this anymore.

“She’s announced this plan as red meat to her base to keep everybody marching.”

The SNP’s Rona Mackay, MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, said: “By pledging to work with the Tories to block democracy, Alex Cole-Hamilton has extinguished any last vestige of credibility his party may have had – they are not remotely liberal or democratic.

“But the Lib Dems have form for enabling the Tories. People in Scotland have neither forgotten, nor forgiven, them for playing handmaiden to Tory austerity, their brutal cuts to social security and their broken promises on tuition fees.

“After they slumped to a last-place finish in the last Holyrood election – and have now embraced Brexit – Alex Cole-Hamilton seems determined to lead his party to complete extinction.”