George Foulkes calls on UK minister to intervene on indyref2

NICOLA Sturgeon is “taking the UK government for fools,” over a second independence referendum, a Labour peer has claimed.

Speaking in the House of Lords, George Foulkes accused the Scottish Government of “illegality” in their bid to hold a vote on the constitution next year. 

He urged ministers in London to force their counterparts in Edinburgh to “start using the money that they get from British taxpayers on the services for which they are now responsible.”

Hereditary peer, Charles Hay, the 16th Earl of Kinnoull, also questioned the Scottish Government’s claim of a democratic mandate, saying that there was no mention of a referendum on the SNP or Green party leaflets delivered to his family’s Perthshire farm during last year’s Holyrood election. 

As the SNP do not take their seats in the House of Lords, the only sympathetic voice for the party’s position came from the Green peer, Natalie Bennett, who said pro-independence “won a majority of seats and votes at last year’s Scottish Parliament election.” 

“That is the standard definition of a democratic mandate,” she added. 

In his contribution, Lord Foulkes told peers: “Boris Johnson has ruled out a second referendum, the candidates for leadership of the Tory party have rolled out a second referendum, even more importantly, Keir Starmer has ruled out a second referendum. So there ain’t got to be a second referendum.

“Yet the Scottish Government are employing 20 civil servants and printing and producing party political propaganda using UK taxpayers money in their campaign to break up Britain. 

“Nicola Sturgeon is taking the UK Government for fools.” 

He asked the minister to “take up a strong Scottish arm and say to the Prime Minister, and, even more important in this context, the head of the civil service, to get the Scottish Government to stop this illegality and start using the money that they get from British taxpayers on the services for which they are now responsible?”

Scotland Office minister Malcolm Offord responded: “So my Lord is referencing the £20 million that the Scottish Government have ringfenced and the 20 civil servants put together for this referendum. 

“The minute the First Minister announced she wanted to publish a prospectus for independence, the Secretary of State for Scotland immediately said that right-minded Scots would agree that using civil service resources to design a prospectus for independence is the wrong thing to be doing at this time. 

“In the meantime, we now have a number of policy documents the first being independence in the modern world, say wealthier, happier and fairer.

“They’ve been in power for 15 years and we can see that Scotland is not wealthier, happier or fairer. 

“We can go through the list of what’s happened to our education system, record queues in the NHS, 20 per cent of children living in poverty, ferries rusting on the Clyde while people can’t get on the holidays.”

He added: “The UK government is firmly of the view the Scottish Government should focus on the matters that Scottish people want them to deal with, which is how to make their lives better and not fuss with a pretendy referendum.”

Tommy McAvoy, the former Labour MP for Rutherglen, accused the SNP of anti-Englishness.

“In endorsing the minister’s statement, can I urge the government in their response to the SNP, that they are very, very careful in the language used in order to avoid giving the SNP any excuse for further anti-Englishness.

“I hope that we can have a response from the government which is positive but at the same time outlining that there is no mandate for a series of referenda in Scotland on this issue.”

SNP Constitution spokesperson Tommy Sheppard MP said: “It’s ironic that we have a bunch of unelected Lords telling an elected Scottish Parliament what it can and cannot do.

“This is the sort of Westminster nonsense Scotland can rid itself of with independence.

“The SNP Scottish Government has a cast-iron mandate to hold a second independence referendum – and anyone that tries to to stand in the way of that is denying Scots their democracy.

“The truth is that across health, education, welfare and the environment the Scottish government is performing better than the Tories at Westminster – and doing so with one hand tied behind its back. With the full powers of independence we could go further still.”


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