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Swinson must rule out joining SNP-Labour pact

The Scottish Conservatives are today calling on Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson to categorically rule out offering her support for a SNP-Labour pact – which could lead to another independence referendum.

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said Ms Swinson needed to make clear that, in a straight choice, she would put the UK Union first, before a second EU vote.

The SNP has said it wants to enter into a pact with Labour after next week’s election – with Nicola Sturgeon demanding a second independence referendum as the price of her support.

But there are key questions over how LibDem MPs would act if a Labour and the SNP agreed to implement two referendums next year.

After Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie said that stopping independence was the most important issue in Scotland, the Scottish Conservatives are now calling on the Liberal Democrats to make clear they would do whatever necessary to block a Labour government that kept an independence referendum on the table.

Campaigning in Moray and Stirling, Mr Carlaw said today:

“I am calling on Jo Swinson to clarify her party’s position before we go to the polls on Thursday.”

“We need to hear clearly from the Liberal Democrats that they will never prop up a Labour - SNP alliance that is preparing to offer up a second independence referendum.”

“This is a key point of principle for Jo Swinson. The suspicion is growing that she is so obsessed with revoking Article 50 or having a second EU vote that she would allow a second independence referendum as a price worth paying.”

“She must make it clear. Will she block any Labour-SNP arrangement that would leave a second independence referendum on the table - or not?”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Jo Swinson was quizzed by Andrew Neil this week about the price of her support for an EU referendum. Transcript below:

AN: What if Mr Corbyn needed not just the support of the Lib Dems for this second referendum but he needed the SNP too. And the SNP said fine, but we want a second Scottish referendum what would you do then?

JS: Well I’m not going to support another referendum on independence.  We know last time we had the referendum on independence the uncertainty that it caused for Scottish businesses and for the economy. And when you look at all of the mess of Brexit right now the last thing we need in Scotland is more chaos on top of that existing chaos

AN: I understand that, so you would sacrifice a second Brexit referendum if it came with a price tag of a second Scottish referendum. Is that right?

JS: Look the SNP say they want to stop Brexit. So the SNP, I put it to you are not going to [interrupted] what are they going to do their not going to support having a people’s vote.

AN: What would you do, would you pay the price of a second referendum in Scotland?

JS: I’m not going to support a second referendum in Scotland with all the extra chaos that brings.

AN: Even if that meant you didn’t get a second Brexit referendum?

JS: I will vote for a people’s vote on the Brexit deal and I think SNP Members of Parliament will also vote for that legislation because they will know that’s what people in Scotland want.

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