The UK Labour party will try to influence the timing of a second referendum on Scottish independence if the issue reaches the House of Commons, BuzzFeed News has learned.
The party's shadow Scottish secretary, Dave Anderson MP, said on Wednesday that UK Labour will not try to block the referendum from taking place but it will attempt to use its influence to decide the timing of such a vote.
Frst minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Monday that she wants another independence vote to take place between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, and insisted the decision over the timing should be made in Holyrood.
There have been reports that the Conservatives also plan to dictate the timing of a second referendum, with prime minister Theresa May's preference reportedly being after the Brexit negotiations have been concluded.
Asked if Labour will block a second referendum, Anderson said: "I’m very clear that won’t be happening. We work closely with colleagues from Scotland and we’re all on the same page on this – they're going to do their best to stop it going through the Scottish parliament.
"If it comes to the House of Commons we will be supportive. We will have some discussions which we haven’t as yet concluded about the timing of when or if the referendum takes place, but we won’t be block the will of the people expressed in Scotland."
Pressed on at what point the Labour party would want the referendum to be, Anderson said: "I just said to you, we haven’t come to a conclusion on that, but when we do you’ll be the first to know."
On Tuesday, Sturgeon insisted that the second referendum must be "made in Scotland", in that its timing, question, and voting franchise should be decided by MSPs in the Scottish parliament rather than in Westminster.
However, if Holyrood gives its backing to Sturgeon to pursue another referendum next week, it will be down to the UK government and the Scottish government to agree on such terms in what's known as a section 30 order.
It's at this point that UK Labour and the Conservatives could attempt to delay an independence referendum until after the Brexit negotiations in debates in the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
“It should be up to the Scottish parliament to determine the referendum’s timing, franchise and the question, which of course will be open to independent scrutiny and testing as it was last time," said Sturgeon on Tuesday.
“Scotland’s referendum should be built on the principles of democracy, mandate and precedent, all of which should be observed as we move to give the people of Scotland the choice the current political situation demands."
A Scottish government source told BuzzFeed News: “There is a cast-iron democratic mandate for the referendum – and it is good that Labour recognise that Westminster has no place in blocking the will of the Scottish parliament on this issue.
"But in terms of timing, as the First Minister has made clear, the referendum must be made in Scotland as was the case in 2014.”
Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.
Contact Jamie Ross at email@example.com.
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