Jeremy Corbyn Says There Would Be A Hard Border Between An Independent Scotland And Post-Brexit England
He told the Scottish Labour conference that independence would mean border checks and joining the euro.
An independent Scotland which joins the European Union would have "a hard border" with the rest of the UK and be forced to adopt the euro as its currency, Jeremy Corbyn has said.
Addressing the Scottish Labour conference on Sunday afternoon, the UK Labour leader claimed that independence would lead to "turbo-charged austerity" and warned pro-independence Scots that "you can't eat a flag".
Corbyn urged Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon to "respect democracy" by respecting the result of the EU referendum and putting the prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum on the back-burner.
"People don’t like the fact that an independent Scotland that stays in the EU would mean joining the euro and having a hard border with the rest of Britain," the UK Labour leader told a sparse crowd inside Perth Concert Hall.
"Neither do they like the idea of giving back powers to Brussels that they have just got back, for example in agriculture and fisheries. Regular polling since Brexit has shown a drop in support for independence.
"There is no appetite for yet another referendum. To the SNP I say this: Listen to the people and respect democracy."
Sturgeon previously insisted there'd be no border checks between Scotland and England should the country become independent and, ahead of the EU referendum, told BuzzFeed News that Scotland wouldn't be forced to join the euro.
Responding to Corbyn's speech, an SNP spokesperson said: “Even the Tories have gone out of their way to promise there will be no post-Brexit hard border in Ireland – so no one can claim with any credibility that it would be different for Scotland. It says it all about Labour that they are reduced to spouting desperate scare stories that even the Tories know are nonsense.”
Corbyn went on to say that the SNP's case for independence has "weakened" since the vote to leave the EU, and the fall in oil prices since 2014 has "exposed the folly of building an economy dominated by oil production".
"The GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] figures – and these are the SNP Scottish government’s own – said that there would have been a near £15 billion deficit between what Scotland spends and raises in revenue," said the Labour leader.
"And conference I have not even mentioned the currency yet. Very few want to join the euro, a real prospect if Scotland become independent in Europe, and most, including the SNP in 2014, want to keep the pound."
Corbyn also addressed the party's humbling in the Copeland by-election earlier in the week, which saw Labour lose the Cumbrian seat to the Conservatives after holding it, and its closest predecessor, for eight decades.
Corbyn said he was "deeply disappointed" by the result and vowed he would "take [his] share of responsibility for it", adding that Labour hadn't done enough to "rebuild trust" of people who have been "sold out for decades".
However, he vowed to carry on as leader.
"Now is not the time to retreat, to run away or to give up," said Corbyn. "Did Keir Hardie give up the fight? Did Clement Attlee? Did the miners, who fought for better pay and working conditions from the first days of the mining industry?"
He added: "They fought back and won time and time again to make their lives, and all the rest of us who came after them, better. That’s what we all have to do now and that’s what I will be doing."
Responding to Corbyn's speech, the SNP's deputy leader, Angus Robertson, said the Labour leader was "grossly disrespecting" voters in Scotland who opted to remain in the EU last June.
"Jeremy Corbyn’s message is a stark and depressing surrender on a hard Brexit," said Robertson. "There is a clear democratic mandate from the people of Scotland not to be dragged out of the EU. To deny that mandate is to deny reality."