Keir Starmer squirms as he is confronted with OWN words on Scotland’s referendum ‘mandate’

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The Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer was grilled by journalist Peter MacMahon over “changing his mind” on remarks he made in January 2020 regarding another Scottish independence vote. Mr MacMahon quoted Sir Keir’s own words back to him where he had previously said an SNP majority would constitute a mandate for another referendum. 

Mr Macmahon said: “When I interviewed you in January, I asked you if the SNP win a majority in Parliament during the next Scottish elections will they have a mandate for a second independence referendum.

“You told me and I am quoting you directly ‘they will have a mandate for that’.

“You have changed your mind, why?”

Mr Starmer replied: “I don’t think with a pandemic like this that another divisive referendum is what anybody wants.

“That is why we will be focusing on the issues that we think really matter going into the next election which is what we are doing to defeat the virus, the economic fallout and how we rebuild the economy and public services.

“This is about focus and what really matters in the here and now.”

He added: “The campaign that we run into May will be focused on the pandemic, rebuilding the economy and public services, the things that really matter most, not on a divisive further referendum which I don’t think is what people want just at the moment in Scotland.”

Earlier this month the Scottish Labour Party leader Richard Leonard suffered a brutal grilling on the prospects of the party under his leadership from Sky News’ Sophy Ridge.

During Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Leonard was told his party had gone from being “dominant” in Scotland to “irrelevant”.

Mr Leonard said: “I think that those people who have been calling for me to step down this week have underestimated my resolve and that mandate I got from the members of Scottish Labour Party.

“Prior to my election as the leader just under three years ago we had five leaders in six years.

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“The mandate I was given by the members when they convincingly elected me to be the leader was to campaign on a radical agenda but it was also to be the leader of the Scottish Labour Party going into the May 2021 Scottish Parliament elections.”

Ms Ridge replied: “At the same time though, surely you can understand why people are concerned?

“Labour has gone from being the dominant party in Scotland to almost an irrelevance.”

The Scottish Labour Party leader replied: “Brexit dominated last December’s election not only in the rest of the UK but Scotland as well.

“I think there is a new climate of politics in Scotland which will allow us to get our messages across.”

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