Tony Blair has said that in order to challenge the SNP in Scotland, a “really capable” opposition is needed.
The former prime minister said in an appearance on Times Radio that it would be “extremely difficult” to challenge the SNP for independence because the party in Scotland is “virtually unchallenged”
In the Scottish Parliament, he called for stronger opposition, saying, “You have to look at how we argue in an articulate and sensible way why Scotland within the United Kingdom is stronger and better off.”
But I’m going back to that point, which has nothing to do with Boris Johnson, but with the Labour Party.
How do you make the Labour Party in Scotland a credible opposition again? Because although the SNP is able to rule practically unchallenged, its position on independence is incredibly difficult to shake.
“But that’s for us as a Labour party to decide how we want to do that.”
He agreed that Brexit had helped put the idea of Scottish independence back on the agenda, and that “careful management” was needed in the situation.
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He said, “We had a referendum rejecting Scottish independence, but it was put back on the agenda by Brexit.”
“And very careful management would be needed. The fact is that separating from England is still not in the interest of Scotland.
There are immense economic and political explanations for the United Kingdom to remain the United Kingdom, so we’re going to have to look at whether the constitutional arrangements are different.
I also think it’s really important, the most important thing in my opinion, that in Scotland – which should be the Labour Party – we have a very capable opposition that can question the role of Scottish nationalists in Scotland in a way that prevents them from doing what they’re doing right now, which is ruling Scotland, but pretending to be in opposition.
“So pretending that all the problems will be solved by independence, when in fact the Scottish government itself has the huge amount of leverage it needs to change Scotland, which is in the Scottish devolution settlement.”
Blair also added that he would have endorsed Keir Starmer’s trade agreement with Boris Johnson, saying he would have supported the Brexit trade deal with Boris Johnson in Parliament.
Asked if he had voted in the House of Commons for the agreement, he said, “I (Sir Keir Starmer) would have supported that.”
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“I mean, look, it’s a tactical issue for the Labour Party because the problem is that it’s open to your opponents to say that if you don’t support the deal, then vote no-deal.”
There have been reasons to abstain and there have been reasons to vote because the alternative is no deal,”There were reasons to abstain and there were reasons to vote for because the alternative is no-deal.”
“What I’m saying is that the decision that the Labour leader has to make is not particularly important to the Labour Party either way,” he said.
“I think what matters is that we’re still in a position where we’re pointing out what the problems are with this deal.”