‘Scots don’t want a referendum’ Gordon Brown slaps down Nicola Sturgeon’s independence bid

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Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown hit out at Nicola Sturgeon’s plans and insisted that it is not something that should happen during a coronavirus pandemic. The Scottish first minister said she would release a draft bill for independence ahead of the Holyrood election in 2021.

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Brown said: “There should not be a referendum now.

“We’re dealing with a virus, unemployment, dealing with the fallout of all these crises.

“I don’t think there are many people in Scotland who want a referendum at the moment.

“They want us to get back to work, they want us to get the testing done.”

On whether there should be a collective response to the pandemic from all of the devolved governments, he added: “If you are going to sort the problem of unemployment or testing, you really have got to work together.

“I think people want the governments of all the different parts of the United Kingdom to co-operate more intensively to get things done.”

It comes as A Conservative motion calling on the Scottish Government to drop its plans for an independence referendum bill has failed at Holyrood.

Tory MSP Jamie Greene put forward a motion saying the Government “should drop its plans for a further Referendum Bill and focus on closing the attainment gap”.

Following a debate in the Scottish Parliament, MSPs instead voted by 65 to 55 in favour of an amendment by Education Secretary John Swinney.

This said the educational attainment gap was caused by poverty, which was “exacerbated by the policy choices of the Conservative administration at Westminster”.

During the Programme for Government announced on September 1, Nicola Sturgeon said she would publish a draft Bill proposing terms and timing for an independence referendum.

Mr Greene said his motion asked the Scottish Parliament to “focus what time and attention we can on education and not on passing bills on referendums”.

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He added: “The Government’s attempt to amend the motion speaks for itself.

“Because you know when the SNP shoves Brexit, Boris and ‘power grab’ into an amendment when debating something over which they have presided for over a decade, you know they have truly run out of arguments.”

He said: “Why would we as a parliament with less than six months’ sitting time think it wise to spend out committee time or civil service time or legislative time or chamber time on a referendum bill?”

Labour education spokesman Iain Gray also hit out at the SNP, saying: “All the evidence does show that they have consistently prioritised the pursuit of independence over education.

“After all, since 2007 we have not just had an actual referendum and white paper on independence, but also countless discussion documents, draft bills, bills, consultation papers, commissions, consultations on draft bills, more white papers.”

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