Blog: Anas Sarwar rules out EU referendum despite ‘economic disaster’ of … – The National

The Scottish Labour leader said he would be inconsistent if he supported another plebiscite on the European Union whilst opposing a second Scottish independence referendum.

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer has ruled out rejoining the bloc if he becomes prime minister.

It comes despite several polls suggesting Brits have changed their minds about leaving the EU.

READ MORE: Anas Sarwar comes out of hiding on gender reform and calls for ‘grown-up’ approach

Appearing on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show, Sarwar was asked by host Martin Geissler whether he agreed that Brexit had been an “economic disaster” and responsible for the UK’s lower standing on the world stage.

Sarwar replied: “Yes, and it’s a result of an economically illiterate and morally bankrupt Conservative Party. That’s why the answer to that is to get rid of this Conservative government.

“I would be inconsistent in my view if I said we shouldn’t reopen the Yes/No question but we should reopen the Leave and Remain question.

“I think that politics of entrenching people into camps, dividing them into sides, has led us into the wrong way across the UK.”

The National: Keir Starmer said he had 'concerns' over Scotland's gender reform legislation Keir Starmer said he had ‘concerns’ over Scotland’s gender reform legislation (Image: PA)

Sarwar accused the Scottish and UK governments of “wrecking” the economy and said Labour’s answer would be to change the UK’s relationship with the EU.

“We would not have a relationship with the European Union that is picking deliberate fights,” he said.

Asked if the new relationship would include frictionless trade, Sarwar said: “We’ve got to fix the Northern Ireland protocol, that would be one example. We’ve got to have better trade with the European Union, being another example.

“Where it suits us in our national interest around flexible migration we should be looking around those opportunities.”

Sarwar was also asked about the UK party “nicking” Dominic Cummings’ Brexit slogan “take back control”.

“What [Starmer] is talking about is taking back control is further devolution and greater devolution,” Sarwar said.

“The really important point is we would fundamentally change our approach to the European Union.”

In a speech earlier this month, Starmer promised a “take back control” bill to devolve power out of Westminster.

The Scottish Labour leader denied that the UK party had two conflicting voter bases to win, those in Scotland largely voting to stay within the EU while many in the north of England opted to leave.

The party has also seen internal divisions over Scotland’s gender reform legislation, with Starmer previously saying he had concerns over lowering the age a person in Scotland can change their gender from 18 to 16.

Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon hit out at Starmer saying she was “very disappointed” with him.

Scottish Labour backed the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Act.

READ MORE: Experts: BBC must re-evaluate impartiality approach to regain trust

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer said: “Anas Sarwar and his Scottish Labour colleagues will now admit just how damaging Brexit has been for Scotland but unbelievably, they want to keep us stuck in Brexit Britain.

“We can all see the devastating impact Brexit has had on almost every sector of our economy and on public services like the NHS, never mind the loss of our automatic rights to travel and work across the continent.

“Two thirds of Scotland voted against this economic self-sabotage, and yet we were dragged out anyway.

“In recent months we have seen UK Labour abandon their promise to defend migrant rights and they’ve even criticised the Tories for not deporting more people via the cruel Home Office system.

“Scottish Labour should finally break with the totally self-defeating policy that has been set for them in London and instead stick up for the people of Scotland and our right to decide our own future.”

SNP MP Alyn Smith said: “With the pro-Brexit Labour Party ruling out any return to the EU or single market, it’s clear independence is the only way to protect Scotland’s economy and regain our place in Europe.

“It beggars belief that Anas Sarwar admits Brexit has been a disaster for the economy but still wants to impose it against Scotland’s will. On Brexit, as with so many issues, the Labour Party is no better than the Tories.

“As the UK approaches the third anniversary of Brexit, the evidence of its devastating impact continues to grow – and majority support for rejoining the EU is at record levels in Scotland.

“It’s no wonder Anas Sarwar flounders whenever he is challenged over Labour’s inexplicable support for Brexit, when he has positioned himself against the democratic wishes of the people of of Scotland, and backs a policy that is threatening Scotland’s economy and costing us billions in long-term damage.

“The SNP is the only party offering Scotland the chance to escape Brexit, and boost our economy by rejoining the EU as an independent country.”

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