Labour 'desperate' to push Scottish devolution as party risks oblivion from ...

LABOUR is desperate for Scotland not to leave the union as the country's independence would make it exceedingly difficult for Sir Keir to secure the keys to Downing Street in the next general election, a political expert told Express.co.uk.

PUBLISHED: 11:16, Tue, Jan 5, 2021 | UPDATED: 11:44, Tue, Jan 5, 2021

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Keir Starmer slammed by Mike Graham over devolution

The Labour Party was at one point considered the party of Scotland, before 2015 having held 41 of the country's 59 constituencies. Things changed dramatically after the 2015 general election, when Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish National Party (SNP) won a landslide victory, securing 56 out of 59 seats. Labour now holds just one of the 59 Scottish seats in the House of Commons, and has lost considerable influence since former leader Jeremy Corbyn's disastrous 2019 election defeat.

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First Minister Sturgeon now wants to push ahead with plans to hold an independence referendum in the near future, just over six years after the SNP, under Alex Salmond, failed to win a majority in favour of leaving the union.

Opinion has changed considerably in that time, however.

It is now understood that Scots would vote for independence if a referendum was called today.

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The likelihood of Scottish independence should a referendum be granted is something that Sir Keir fears greatly, Professor Steven Fielding told Express.co.uk, because it risks the party's chances of securing Government.

Keir Starmer: The Labour leader is 'desperate' for Scotland not to gain independenceKeir Starmer: The Labour leader is 'desperate' for Scotland not to gain independence (Image: GETTY)

Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland's First Minister enjoyed a landslide victory north of the border in 2015Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland's First Minister enjoyed a landslide victory north of the border in 2015 (Image: GETTY)

Last month, Sir Keir announced that Labour would be opening a "constitutional commission" that would spread devolution to all corners of the UK.

It was widely interpreted as a last-ditch effort to win back those Scottish voters who left Labour for the SNP five years ago.

Prof Fielding said while there was still a chance Labour could win Government in Westminster without Scotland in the union, Sir Keir knows the odds are stacked against him, and is thus desperate to reclaim territory north of the border.

The Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham said: "We know that there is a majority in Scotland and an increasing one for independence, and Sir Keir's devolution plans are about Scotland, not Wales or Northern Ireland.

"As things stand, the strongest argument the SNP has for independence is a Tory Government led by Boris Johnson.

"If things remain the same, it's very likely they'll push for a referendum in the near future and they'll win it.

"Johnson currently doesn't seem to care about the issue because if he did he'd do something about it, whereas Starmer, for reasons that are quite obvious, doesn't want Scotland to break away.

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"If it becomes independent then Labour's chances for securing the next Government aren't impossible, but there's a lot of seats it might have hoped to win under a successful Labour leader that are gone."

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