By Lewis McKenzie and Bernard Ponsonby
The future of Scotland is a question for the people of Scotland, said Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer.
However, he insisted that for the duration of the current Scottish Parliament, the focus should be on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
Sir Keir also dismissed suggestions that a British government could take the Scottish government to court to overturn Holyrood legislation brought forward to hold an independence referendum.
“The priority must be recovery, which is most important in people’s minds.”
Sir Keir Starmer, Labor leader
Speaking to STV News on the second day of his visit to Scotland, Sir Keir was asked if he accepted that Scots did not need permission from Westminster to choose whatever government they wanted.
“It’s a matter for the people of Scotland. It’s not a principle that any of us don’t argue with,” he said.
“It has to be the business of the Scottish people, I don’t dispute that principle.
“What I’m saying is the priorities right now are recovery from the pandemic.”
Sir Keir continued: “The priority must be recovery, which is most important in people’s minds.
“And it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that every party in this election said that should be the priority.”
When asked if the British Parliament should have the right to veto a second referendum, he replied: “Well, that’s the current arrangement at Westminster.”
He added: “Standing back from that, the question about the future of Scotland, that’s obviously a question for the people of Scotland.”
The Labor leader said the constitutional issue had diverted attention from the concerns people face in their daily lives.
Insisting on when is the right time to hold a referendum, he replied: “When we get through the recovery and start tackling some of the issues around climate change.”
He continued: “For the duration of this Parliament, we should be focused on recovery.
“But I am frustrated that there is a burning issue about what the future of these communities and jobs is in the North East of Scotland and no one is addressing it.
“The SNP promised thousands of jobs in the wind sector, they delivered about one in 20.
“And the constitutional question is a way to divert attention from some of the very real concerns we have here in Scotland which affect people in their daily lives and probably affect the next generation of jobs in places like the North East of Scotland.”
The Labor leader insisted that politics should be kept out of the courts when asked about the possibility of a legal challenge to any future referendum legislation.
“I never thought politics should involve going to court,” he said.
“I think politics should be kept out of the courts, and I say that as a former lawyer.
“Politics should be fought in the political arena and I am sure that is where it will ultimately be fought.”